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Chapter

6
FIRE DEPARTMENT RESOURCES
Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to
List fire department facilities.
List advantages of a department having its own facilities.
Describe the purpose of each of the fire department facilities.
Describe the types of fire apparatus and their functions.
List the types of tools carried on fire apparatus.
Describe the use of the various tools carried on fire apparatus.
Describe the different types of personal protective equipment used by firefighters.
Describe the types and uses of aircraft in firefighting.

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INTRODUCTION
The modern fire department relies on many types of resources in the form of
facilities and equipment to do its job. The facilities described in this chapter are
not available at every fire department due to need and budget constraints; they
represent a sample of the facilities at fire departments across the country.
The equipment described in this chapter has evolved over a period of many
years to fulfill specific functions, much of it in a particular firefighting situation
or method. Not all of the equipment is carried or operated by every fire department as situations and types of fires vary. It is important to be aware of the
differing types of equipment when operating in conjunction with other departments and agencies on large or complex incidents.
Not all of the equipment available to the firefighter is listed here as that
would take up numerous volumes. As you study this chapter, try to think of
some equipment available in your area that could be adapted to firefighting use.
As you look at the chapter, you should realize that is exactly what has been done
with many of the tools in use today.

FIRE DEPARTMENT FACILITIES


The modern fire department requires numerous types of facilities for response,
support and administrative functions. They are illustrated here. Not every department will need all of them due to size of response area and the size of the
department.

Headquarters
The fire department headquarters is where the managerial staff of the fire department is located. The fire chief, administrative officer, and their staffs work
out of the headquarters. The heads of the various bureaus, fire prevention, training, arson, and others have their offices at this facility. By having all of the top
staff in one location, it is much easier to perform unified planning. The whole
staff, or selected personnel, can be gathered on short notice to confer on items
requiring immediate attention.
The headquarters may be located at the main fire station or at a separate
location. There are advantages and disadvantages to either location. Having the
headquarters located at the main fire station (Figure 6-1) helps the staff keep a finger on the pulse of the organization. It brings them closer to the troops in the field.
It also provides the staff with personnel who can be used to perform tasks, such
as running errands, when necessary. The disadvantages are that the firefighters at
the main fire station will be assigned many of the minor jobs that the staff needs
done, which is often disruptive to the routine work that the company officer has

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Figure 6-1
Headquarters
building separate
from fire station.

planned. Firefighters tend to be quite social and a certain amount of productive


time will be lost with the station crew talking to the staff personnel and firefighters from other stations as they come and go during the day. Having equipment
responding from the headquarters is disruptive to the headquarters staff. When
equipment leaves, there is usually a certain amount of noise in the revving of engines, sirens, and air horns. The equipment pulling out leaves behind a cloud of
diesel smoke that can find its way into the office spaces.
There are advantages to working at the main fire station. The firefighters
working at the main fire station are usually the best informed as to what is going
on in the department, which can be very beneficial at promotional testing time.
The other side of this is that they are the most visible to the top staff and are usually held to a higher standard just because of that visibility. In a large department
with widespread stations, the old adage out of sight, out of mind may well
apply. The headquarters firefighters may also get choice assignments. Even if this
is not true, it is often the perception of the firefighters at the other stations. Headquarters firefighters are right there when things become available and they can be
the first to get their names on the list for classes and other events.
Having the headquarters remotely located also has advantages and disadvantages (Figure 6-2). A site can be chosen that allows for future expansion as
the department increases. The role of the fire department has grown immensely
during the last few years and the personnel needed to administrate and perform
the new functions has grown along with it. Having the headquarters located by
itself reduces some of the problems noted in the previous paragraphs. The staff

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Figure 6-2
Headquarters in
building with main
fire station.
(Courtesy of David
Dodson.)

personnel are left alone to perform their duties without the interference and disruption of station activities. The remote location also cuts down on the production of rumors from eavesdropping and personnel accidentally, or on purpose,
seeing memos and other confidential communications or suggestions. When
someone reports to headquarters for disciplinary reasons, he or she does not
need a whole station crew watching and then spreading the news. Having the
office away from the unofficial communication system allows the staff the luxury
of brainstorming and other creative thinking without the fear that anything
placed on a chalkboard or paper will get to the field as a done deal, not just an
option that may be accepted or rejected.
Some of the disadvantages are that someone has to be found to carry out
errands, like heavy lifting or moving office equipment that the secretaries cannot
perform themselves. This may even require having to detail a crew from a station
over to headquarters to move things on an occasional basis. When new equipment, like nozzles or turnouts, are to be tested it needs to be taken to a fire station, not just sent downstairs for evaluation. This tends to formalize the contact
of the staff officers with the field. Sometimes personnel forget that they all wear
the same uniforms and work for the same fire department.

Automotive Repair Facility


Mechanics are needed to maintain a fleet of engines and all of the other motorized equipment used by the fire department. They are hired for their expertise in

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high-angle rescue
rescue utilizing ropes
and other equipment.
Examples are
removing persons
from smokestacks or
water towers

standpipe system
plumbing system
installed in multistory
buildings for fire
department use with
outlets on each floor
for attaching fire hose

Figure 6-3 Repair


garage for fire
equipment.

139

working with the types of equipment operated by the fire department. A complete facility has hoists that can handle the weight of a fire engine for service
from underneath (Figure 6-3). The facility should be heated and cooled for the
comfort of the mechanics winter and summer. Each mechanic requires a complete set of hand tools. The shop should be equipped with a set of specialty tools
for work on certain parts of the apparatus. Heavy tools, such as lathes and
presses, are needed to perform certain jobs and to fabricate parts when vehicles
are repowered, or some part that can no longer be purchased needs to be replaced. A lube and oil change bay should be included as well as tire-servicing
equipment. A separate area of the shop should be set up for welding and fabrication. Many manufacturers of fire apparatus do not remain in business for the
life of the apparatus, making parts, such as compartment doors, unavailable.

Training Center
One of the most important facilities a fire department can have is a training
facility.1 It need not be overly fancy or expensive. Many training props can be
created from donated items.
A drill tower (Figure 6-4) is effective for training personnel in the use of
ladder trucks and aerial apparatus. It can also be used for training in rappelling
and high-angle rescue. If the training tower is equipped with interior stairwells
and a standpipe system, it can be used for training in high-rise firefighting. Most

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Figure 6-4 Drill


tower being used
for aerial ladder
operation practice.

drill towers are constructed of concrete or brick. Training towers have been made
from wood, with the uprights made out of telephone poles. Burning is not
usually done in drill towers because of the damaging effects of heat and smoke.
An effective way to fill the tower with smoke is with a smoke machine. These
machines leave no harmful or unsightly residue.
A burn building (Figure 6-5) or prop is effective for training firefighters
under hot and/or smoky conditions. Demonstrations showing the first two
phases of a fire and development of the interior fire environment can be safely
performed. These types of buildings are especially good for training firefighters
in interior attack as a back draft or flashover is not likely to occur. The building
should be constructed of noncombustible materials, allowing it to last through
many training fires without damage. If the fires are kept to a few palettes or small
amounts of ordinary combustibles, the effect of the heat can be obtained without
damage to the building. Several handfuls of damp straw with a road flare stuck
in the center will make all of the smoke required. The fires should be kept as
small as possible and flammable liquids, tires, or other highly flammable substances should not be used. Replaceable ceiling panels with sheetrock nailed to
a wooden frame and roof panels using plywood are effective for ventilation training. Whenever live fire is part of the drill, a safety officer, full turnouts, and selfcontained breathing apparatus are requirements. The best course of action is to
strictly adhere to NFPA Standard 1403, Live Fire Training in Structures.2
These buildings are also useful for demonstrating the dangers of various
household materials in a fire situation. A very effective demonstration is to place

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141

Figure 6-5 Burn


building.

a dried-out Christmas tree in the living room of the burn building. The area surrounding the tree is set up with furniture and wrapped boxes. The tree is then set
on fire, demonstrating the dangers of allowing the tree to dry out. A motivational
drill to build speed in firefighting salvage operations in a burn building with a
sprinkler system is to have one crew hooking up to the sprinkler system while
another is inside spreading salvage covers. If the inside crew is fast enough, it
will complete its work and get out before getting wet.
The burn building can also be used for hazardous materials training by setting up a simulated clandestine drug lab and having the team make entry. The
room should contain the common booby traps to promote awareness of the dangers present. The police department may be interested in using these facilities to
practice hostage rescue and other skills.
No training center would be complete without classrooms. These can be
plain or fancy. If the money is available they can include VCRs, televisions, satellite reception, and all of the other audio visual training aids. Chalkboards or
white boards are required for drawing out hose lays or doing computations. The
advantage of designated classrooms is they are designed to be used in that way.
An apparatus room at a station tends to smell like diesel smoke and is not very
well heated or cooled. Tables and chairs are required, students need to be able to
take notes, and sit through some classes that may last all day. Adequate lighting
is necessary to lessen eye strain. If the local department cannot afford to build its
own classrooms, it may be able to borrow space from recreation centers, veterans
halls, or schools on weekends. When classrooms are available, other agencies are
amenable to giving fire department personnel free tuition to classes in return for

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drafting pit
an open topped tank
that is used for
drafting operations
and pump testing

Figure 6-6 Hydrant


hookup practice.

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use of the facility. These kinds of arrangements are often made with the Forest
Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The training facility should have a storage area or engine house to store apparatus and equipment used for training. The training center should be furnished
with a variety of equipment, such as ladders, hose, and other items. To borrow
this equipment from front-line engines every time a drill or academy is held is inconvenient, disruptive, and hard to manage. The engine house is also a good
place for training with salvage covers and other pieces of equipment that take up
large areas. If firefighters are wet from drilling, the engine house is a good place
for them to gather during or after drills to get out of the weather. If they were to
gather in the classroom, they would get dirty water and mud on the floors.
As an integral part of the training center, there need to be several hydrants
and a drafting pit. The fire hydrants can be used for operator training (Figure 6-6).

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hydrant hookups
attaching the suction
hose from the
pumper to the
hydrant

confined space
a space that is not
designed to be
occupied on a regular
basis that is lacking in
natural ventilation

Figure 6-7 Drafting


pit for apparatus
and operator
testing.

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Having the hydrants within the training center allows the persons being trained to
practice and be tested on hydrant hookups without worrying about traffic or adversely affecting an areas water supply. The hydrants can be used in performing
drills at the drill tower and the burn building. When training with heavy stream
appliances, there needs to be somewhere to discharge upward of a thousand gallons a minute without causing an accident or other damage.
The drafting pit allows for operator training in drafting operations (Figure 6-7). The pit is designed so that the water discharged from the engine is
directed back into the pit. This feature allows for long periods of pumping without
wasting water or creating runoff problems. This pit is used for testing fire engines
at draft annually and after pump repairs.3
If the training center is on enough acreage, it can contain a driver training/
testing course. It is always better to train people on tasks such as emergency stopping and high-speed lane changes somewhere away from other traffic (Figure 6-8).
As a function of the extra space, an area can be set aside for drills in trench
rescue and structural collapse props. Having these props inside a fenced and
locked facility allows them to be left set up without fear of some children getting
injured playing around them.
The fire department can usually come up with enough donated material to
set up props for hazardous materials training. This would include plumbing
props, railroad tank cars, and large tanks. The large tanks can be used for confined
space rescue training as an added benefit. Many businesses will donate materials
in return for access to the props to perform their own training (Figure 6-9).

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Figure 6-8 Driver


training.

Figure 6-9
Hazardous
materials
operations props.

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In departments spread over large geographic areas, training is often accomplished by sending out a monthly video tape. Many fine training programs are
commercially available on video as well. When the training center is equipped
with a studio (Figure 6-10) and an audiovisual specialist, the department can
make up its own videos. This allows department-specific training programs to be
created and duplicated for distribution. Some departments even have their own
closed-circuit television channels for presenting training and other information.
The training facility may have offices specifically for the training staff.
These offices should have copying and word-processing equipment for developing and disseminating training programs and information. Having the staff present at the facility also gives them the ability to provide instructor support. Some
training facilities have complete firefighting-related libraries, which allow
firefighters, instructors, and students to come to one central location to check out
books, videos, and other materials.

Warehouse/Central Stores
The fire department warehouse/central stores center is designed to stock most of
the day-to-day needs of the fire department administration, fire stations, and
firefighters. All of the materials required, from toilet paper to turnouts, are stored
while waiting to be issued to the personnel. By having materials at hand, the departments supply orders can be filled in a timely fashion. The warehouse is also

Figure 6-10 Audiovisual studio for


production of
training materials.
(Courtesy of Edwina
Davis.)

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a place to store extra turnouts and other items not in use currently. A stock of
these items must be maintained as the time required to obtain them from the
manufacturer may be several months.
The central warehouse facility is also a good place to locate the repair facility for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). In larger departments with
many SCBAs, a technician is employed with this as his or her main function. This
can reduce the cost of going outside for service and provide for shorter downtime
of the SCBA as the fire department will be the number one priority. The SCBA for
other governmental agencies that use them, such as the corrections department
and environmental health, can also be serviced at this facility. The repair facility
should also contain a specialized breathing air compressor for filling the SCBA
bottles (Figure 6-11). A regular air compressor of the home or industrial type is
not acceptable as it uses oil to lubricate the compressor pistons and makes the
compressed air unfit to be used as a source of breathing air. The bottles for the
SCUBA of the Search and Rescue Dive Team can be filled here as well.

Communications Center
The fire department receives calls for emergency assistance at the communications center (Figure 6-12).4 Most of the United States now has a 911 system in
place. In a typical situation, the 911 calls are received by the local law enforcement

Figure 6-11 Air


compressor
designed for filling
SCBA bottles.

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Figure 6-12
Emergency services
dispatch center.

agency. The dispatcher asks the type of emergency. If the call requires fire department response, it is routed to the fire department dispatcher. The dispatcher,
through the use of a keyboard at her console, enters the calls location and type
into a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) computer system. The CAD system then
places the information necessary to properly dispatch the required units on the
dispatchers console screen. Depending on the nature of the call, it may require
one or more pieces of apparatus. A vehicle accident requires an engine and an
ambulance. An accident with pinned victims requires the nearest engine, the
nearest engine with rescue equipment, and an ambulance. If an air ambulance or
other equipment is available, it can be dispatched also.
An enhanced 911 system is a great improvement over the older systems in
several ways. It used to be that the dispatcher received the call and looked up the
location on the map. In large or complicated jurisdictions, such as large cities or
departments with vast geographic areas, dispatchers were required to have an
extensive knowledge of the jurisdiction. Often children and people in distress
are not sure where they are and either give the wrong address or none at all. An
enhanced 911 system is programmed with the address of the phone being used
to make the call. This system does not work when a cellular phone is used to
make the call, which often happens when an accident is reported on a major
roadway or from aircraft.
The older system also required the dispatcher to determine which equipment to dispatch from run cards. These cards had to be looked through to find

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the proper one for the location and type of call. If the responsible station was out
on another assignment, the dispatcher had to determine who was second in. This
old system could be very time consuming, especially in a department with a
large geographical area and numerous stations. With the development of the enhanced 911 and CAD systems, dispatchers already have the location and the
computer tells them whose station area the call is in and, depending on the type
of call, what equipment to dispatch.

Fire Stations

Note
The public expects
firefighters to be
professionals and a
run-down looking fire
station does nothing
to enhance our
professional image.

Figure 6-13 Modern


fire station.

All of the facilities described so far are for the support of the firefighters in the
fire station. Fire stations started out as nothing more than a shed to house the fire
fighting equipment. They then evolved into a place to house the equipment and
a social hall for the volunteers to gather (Figure 6-13). With the advent of the
paid fire department and 24-hour or longer shifts, the stations were equipped
with living quarters for the firefighters. Todays fire station serves many functions: There is the apparatus room for the equipment, a kitchen for cooking
meals, sleeping quarters for the crew, an office for paperwork and maintaining
files, an area with physical fitness equipment, and rest rooms and showers.
Many of the changes being incorporated in the design of the modern fire
station are due to the inclusion of women in the fire service and laws relating to
handicap access. A newly constructed fire station will probably include separate
bedrooms for the crew members instead of the old style barracks format. At least
one of the rest rooms will be equipped for handicapped access. The station may
be located in an industrial area or in a residential neighborhood, but it should be
designed to fit in as well as possible with the surrounding structures. A modern

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motor block heater


an electrical device
that keeps oil in the
motor warm and
makes for easier
starting and helps
prevent damage when
the motor is started in
cold weather

149

professional-looking office area is included to make the public feel more welcome when it visits the station for permits or other information. One of the main
requirements is that the station be well maintained and clean. The public expects firefighters to be professionals and a run-down looking fire station does
nothing to enhance our professional image.
A well-designed fire station is situated on a large lot with enough room for
maneuvering fire equipment and performing training evolutions. The lot should
be secured to keep people from entering when the fire crews are absent. The apparatus room should be equipped with automatic doors that can be closed by a
remote control in the equipment when the firefighters leave. The apparatus room
should also have electric reels for the motor block heaters and air hose reels for
inflating tires. Some departments are installing exhaust smoke removal systems
in apparatus rooms. Ventilated storage cabinets should be provided for the storage of turnouts of the off-duty personnel. There is also a hose rack for storing
extra hose to replace that on the apparatus. There may also be a special air compressor for filling SCBA bottles. Out back is a hose tower for drying hose before
storing or reloading on the equipment.

FIRE APPARATUS
The modern fire service requires many types of apparatus to perform its duties in
protecting the community. These types of apparatus vary widely in their design
and application. In many instances, apparatus has been modified or specially
designed to better perform the required work. There are several basic designs for
the specialized apparatus used today.

Cab and Chassis


n Note
Fire apparatus are
designed to meet
NFPA specifications.

Fire apparatus manufacturers start out with a cab and chassis (Figure 6-14).
Depending on the needs and specifications of the buyer, these can vary greatly.
The cab and chassis can be either two- or four-wheel drive. Fire apparatus are designed to meet NFPA specifications.5 To meet these specifications apparatus
must provide inside seating for all personnel. Wearing seat belts is law in most
states and department policy as well as good practice. Todays new engines are
likely to be of the four-door cab variety. This development in safety has mostly
done away with the practice of firefighters riding on the tail step or running
boards of the apparatus. Even in pumpers of the semiclosed cab type, firefighters
should never release their seat belts and stand up until the apparatus is stopped
and the brake is set. Whenever possible, the best practice is for the firefighters to
remain seated and belted in until told to leave the apparatus by their officer. It is
very easy to fall from a moving apparatus if you are standing and the driver hits
a bump or swerves to miss an obstacle.

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Figure 6-14 Chassis


before buildup.

Safety

In pumpers of
the semiclosed cab
type, firefighters
should never release
their seat belts and
stand up until the
apparatus is stopped
and the brake is set.

Let us now take a tour of the cab area of a standard new piece of fire apparatus. The vehicle is equipped with large mirrors to aid in safe operation. There
should also be a fish-eye mirror for pulling up close alongside objects like curbs.
Inside the cab is the drivers seat with a large steering wheel (Figure 6-15).
Mounted on the dash, in front of the driver, are gauges for air pressure, fuel, temperature, and air pressure in the air brake system. There is a speedometer and
tachometer as well. On the dash is a push/pull switch that operates the air brakes
and a headlight switch.
The vehicle will be equipped with either a manual or automatic transmission. When equipped with a manual transmission, there is a switch or lever that
disengages the drive train from the rear wheels and transfers the power output of
the motor to the pump. The power is redirected through a pump transfer transmission. After the power is transferred to the pump gearing, the road transmission is returned to top gear. When equipped with an automatic transmission,
there is a pump switch that engages the pump transfer. Once engaged, the road
transmission is returned to top gear. With either type of transmission, if the
power is not redirected through the pump transmission, through oversight or
mechanical failure of the switch, the vehicle may lurch forward when the clutch
is engaged or the throttle is opened.

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Figure 6-15 Interior


of engine cab.

jake brake
common name for
the Jacobs Engine
Brake. Used on diesel
motors

light bar
roof-mounted unit
containing emergency
warning lights

alley lights
lights mounted in a
light bar that shine to
the side of the vehicle,
commonly used for
spotting addresses on
structures at night

Vehicles with a manual transmission have clutch, brake, and throttle


pedals. An automatic transmission vehicle has a brake and throttle pedals. If the
power plant of the pumper is a diesel, it may also have an engine brake of
the jake brake type. The use of these devices greatly reduces brake fade and
extends the life of brake components on a 25,000- to 40,000-pound vehicle, the
weight of a typical pumper. Ladder trucks are even heavier. Fire engines and
other fire vehicles lead a tough life accelerating and stopping repeatedly on the
way to emergencies in metropolitan areas and when operated in hilly terrain.
In the center of the dash are the switches that control the lights and electronic
siren. There are switches for the light bar on the roof as well as the warning lights
on the rear and sides. In most pumpers there is a so-called master switch that permits all of the warning lights to be controlled by one switch, allowing the individual switches to be left in the on position. If there are alley lights mounted in the
light bar, there should be two switches, one for right and one for left. Another light
bar mounted device is for preemption of traffic signals. This allows the changing of
traffic lights to green in the direction of travel of the apparatus. There is another
switch for the lights on the rear, called pickup or hose lights, which are used at
night to illuminate the area around the rear of the vehicle for reloading hose or
backing up. The electronic siren is equipped with an on/off switch and settings for
public address, radio outside speaker, manual, yelp, high/low, and wail. In the

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manual position, pushing the horn button in the middle of the steering wheel activates the siren. This manual use is handy when making long rural responses in
which the siren is needed only intermittently. Some sirens have an electronic air
horn capability, which is usually specified on vehicles that do not have an onboard air compressor and therefore cannot support real air horns. The air horns are
mounted in the front bumper, to increase their effectiveness, by placing them close
to the height of most automobile windows (Figure 6-16).
The radio system for the apparatus to maintain contact with the dispatch
center and the other apparatus is located in the cab. Modern radios have
multichannel capability. The use of multiple channels allows the fire department
to operate on several incidents at one time without developing overcrowding on
one frequency. There may also be an intercom system, with headsets and microphones for the crew. These allow the members of the crew to talk to each other
easily over the sound of the motor, siren, and air horn when responding. As an
added benefit, they protect the firefighters hearing. On a piece of apparatus with
the firefighters separated from the officer by the back wall of the cab, the headsets
allow the officer to give instructions to the firefighters and allow the firefighters to
hear the radio traffic and the at-scene description given by the officer (Figure 6-17).
There may be a connection for a headset on the pump panel so the pump operator can hear the radio over the roar of the motor when operating at scene.
Many fire apparatus are designed with a breathing apparatus mounted
between the driver and the officer. This allows the officer to quickly don the
breathing apparatus before leaving the cab.
In some models of enclosed cab pumpers, the firefighters ride facing
rearward, in others they face forward. The seats in this area can be designed with

Figure 6-16 Front


view of fire vehicle,
showing location
of air horns in
bumper. (Courtesy
of John D. Friis.)

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Figure 6-17
Operating pumper
while maintaining
communications
through use of
headphones.

ambulance gurney
the wheeled cot that
patients are placed on
prior to transport in
the ambulance

Mobile Data Computer


A computer mounted
in the apparatus
connected to an
antenna to provide
and receive CAD
information

the back cut out, allowing a breathing apparatus to be mounted where it can be
quickly donned when needed.
In areas where summer heat is a factor, the apparatus may be equipped with
a built-in air-conditioning system, which allows the firefighters in full turnout
gear to stay cool when making long responses. It also makes riding in the apparatus much more comfortable on routine assignments.
The cab portions vary widely depending on the specifications and financial
resources of the purchaser. Some fire departments have custom pumpers with
an ambulance gurney mounted crosswise in the cab, giving the engine patienttransport capability. Other vehicles have a cab with a walk-through design and
enough room to contain a mobile command post (Figure 6-18).
Many fire department vehicle cabs are now equipped with Mobile Data
Computers (MDC). These computers allow personnel to connect to the ComputerAided Dispatch (CAD). The units provide a connection to gather and update run
information. They can provide information about addresses, such as known hazards, owner contact information and so forth. An on-board computer can contain
a basic street map with overlays of hydrant location, preincident plans, sewers
and storm drains, and other information. To make the information more user
friendly, the layers can be turned on and off as needed. The units are usually
equipped with touch screens so the operators can provide information as to availability and at scene without using the radio, thereby minimizing voice traffic on
sometimes crowded channels and reducing the possibility of a message being
missed or having to be repeated.

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Figure 6-18 Mobile


data computers
such as ths one are
replacing the less
powerful mobile data
terminal as shown
in Figure 6-17. Units
such as this are
capable of storing
information on board
the apparatus for
easy retrieval.
(Photo courtesy of
Shreveport Fire
Department.)

In addition automatic vehicle location systems (AVL) are often used in conjunction with MDCs. The unit in the apparatus receives GPS signals and once
their location is computed it is provided as a graphic display to the dispatch
center CAD and in the apparatus. This allows the closest resource response to be
generated. They also come with routing capability that displays the route to the
scene. The route information can include and be based on one-way streets,
school zones, construction zones, highway divider walls, speed limits, and other
features that may restrict response to a location. When the call is entered into the

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CAD, the computer utilizes the AVL and routing information to determine the
closest appropriate resource.
Both MDC and AVL assist units in getting to the scene more quickly. Fires
grow very rapidly and in the case of medical emergencies and rescues, time can
be the difference between life and death.
Cellular phones and fax machines are just a logical forward step. With the
high number of accidents that happen when backing up, video cameras aimed
over the rear, like those mounted on motor homes, are coming into use. At the
fire scene, one of the greatest resources the officer has is pertinent and up-to-date
information. As more sophisticated devices become available for the storage and
retrieval of information and communications, they will find their way into the
cabs of fire apparatus.
The standard for fire engines includes two individual battery sets of the truck
type, allowing for additional starting amperage as well as a backup in case one set
goes dead. It also allows for increased storage capacity for the tremendous draw
placed on the electrical system due to the warning lights. A switch in the cab allows
the batteries to be turned off and one or both sets of batteries to be used at a time.

Motor
Fire apparatus today are mostly powered by diesel motors, noted for their long
life and durability under tough conditions (Figure 6-19). Diesel motors are

Figure 6-19 Diesel


motor with
turbocharger and
supercharger
mounted in fire
apparatus.

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156

inverter
an electrical device
that converts 12-volt
current to 110 volt.
Used to operate lights
and tools from
vehicles charging
system

Note
Most pumpers in
service are of the
triple combination
type.

articulated boom
elevating device
consisting of a boom
that is hinged in the
middle

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selected for their abundance of torque. It takes a lot of power to operate a large
gallon per minute pump and supply effective hose streams. The motor must also
be able to propel a heavy vehicle to operating speed in a short period of time.
When used in hilly terrain, a diesel motor with both a turbocharger and a supercharger are not uncommon.
The motor should be equipped with an oversized alternator to supply power
for all of the extra lights used as warning devices. If the motor is left at idle with all
of the emergency lights operating for any length of time, it can drain the batteries.
The oversize alternator must be turning at around 1,000 rpm to develop enough
amperage to operate all of the additional lights and other electrical equipment on
the vehicle. Apparatus are equipped with a high idle switch that automatically
raises the idle when engaged. Most apparatus are also supplied with an inverter
that allows 110-volt lighting to be used without starting the onboard generator.

Modular Apparatus
Some departments use modular apparatus. By having different modules that are
mountable on the chassis, the department gains flexibility. An example would be
a cab and chassis with a dismountable body stocked with hazardous materials or
heavy rescue equipment, giving the department the capability of having less of
the expensive parts of a truck, the cab and chassis, and several choices as to which
bodies to mount as the need arises. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have employed this concept for many years by utilizing flatbed trucks with
self-contained pumper bodies mounted on them. This concept does not work out
with a regular pumper because of the plumbing and mounting of the pump to the
chassis. In areas where a large water tank is carried, it also tends to raise the center of gravity to the point that the equipment is limited to on-road use only.

Pumper/Engine
The basic piece of motorized equipment in the fire service is the pumper. (For the
purposes of this text the terms pumper and engine are used interchangeably.)
These apparatus are designed to meet NFPA 1901 Pumper Fire Apparatus specifications. Most pumpers in service are of the triple combination type. A triple
combination pumper is so named because it carries hose, a pump, and has a water
tank. Other equipment is carried as the situation dictates. All of these attributes
as well as the cab and chassis can be combined in various forms, according to
need. Some jurisdictions have purchased specially designed pumpers with an
articulated boom that gives them the capability of applying elevated streams.

Water Tank
Water tanks on fire pumpers vary in size. On small apparatus and metropolitan
engines, where water is readily available from the hydrant system, tanks tend to

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baffles
partitions placed in
tanks that prevent the
water from sloshing
and making the
vehicle unstable when
turning corners

Safety

The large tank


adds to the overall
weight of the apparatus and going up in
height raises the center
of gravity, making the
engines more top heavy
and likely to tip over
when operating in sidehill situations or when
performing evasive
maneuvers.

Figure 6-20 Threeaxle engine with


1,500-gallon tank.
(Courtesy of John D.
Friis.)

157

be around 200 to 500 gallons. In rural areas tanks range from 750 to 1,500 gallons
(Figure 6-20). Any more than this and the apparatus is considered to be a water
tender/tanker. Once the tank exceeds 1,000 gallons, the vehicle usually rides on
three axles. The tanks are equipped with baffles to prevent the water from shifting around and causing the vehicle to become unstable.
As water tanks increase in size and vehicle length and width stay the same,
the only way to go is up. Standard size engines with large tanks tend to have hose
beds high in the air, making them harder to access (Figure 6-21). A roll of wet
21 2-inch hose weighs approximately 60 pounds and is hard to lift into the hose
bed to carry it back to the station. The higher the hose bed, the harder it is to load
the wet hose. The large tank adds to the overall weight of the apparatus and
going up in height raises the center of gravity, making the engines more top
heavy and likely to tip over when operating in sidehill situations or when performing evasive maneuvers.
Plastic is a very popular material for water tank construction. Metal tanks,
which have traditionally been used, tend to corrode over time and develop leaks.
Plastic tanks are corrosion resistant and stand up better to wetting agents and
foaming agents added to water to improve fire fighting characteristics.

Foam Systems
More and more apparatus are being equipped with built-in foam systems. These
can be either class A, class B, or both. A built-in class A system provides superior
knockdown on ordinary combustible materials. Class B systems are for use on

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Figure 6-21 Contrast


of hose bed heights
due to tank size.
(Courtesy of John D.
Friis.)

hydrocarbon fuels (e.g., gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel). The systems consist of
a built-in foam concentrate tank, injector, and a means of adjusting the concentrate level delivered into the water stream. Many also come with a flowmeter to
keep track of how much water has flowed and how much foam concentrate has
been used.
Another variation of the class A foam system is the compressed air foam
system (CAFS). This system utilizes an air compressor to inject air into the hose
stream as it leaves the pump. Combined with class A foam this provides a light
and airy foam that can stick to vertical surfaces. It is often used to pretreat structures and trees in the path of oncoming wildland fires, giving personnel the
opportunity to protect structures without actually remaining directly in the path
of an advancing fire. A word of caution here is that the nozzle reaction from a
hose connected to a CAFS pumper is much more than that of a regular pumper
at the same pressure.

Pumps
Note
The main purpose of
any pump is to lift
water.

The main purpose of any pump is to lift water or to add pressure to the water
so it can flow through hose and nozzles and be applied to the fire away from
the pump. To deliver the contents of a reservoir or water tank to the third floor
of a building requires some device to force the water through the hose and
appliances.

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Note
The most commonly
used main pump on
fire apparatus is the
centrifugal pump.

Figure 6-22 Fire


pump cutaway
mounted for
display.

159

Centrifugal Pump The most commonly used main pump on fire apparatus is the centrifugal pump. It has many desirable features from the firefighting standpoint.
The centrifugal pump consists of one or more vaned wheels, called impellers,
mounted on a shaft (Figure 6-22). Power is supplied to the pump from the motor
of the pumper through a pump transmission. The transmission can consist of a
transfer case or a power takeoff unit. In the case of a power takeoff (PTO) unit, the
pumper can pump and roll at the same time. If equipped with a transfer case, the
power is redirected from the rear wheels to the pump and the pumper stays stationary when the pump is operated. A third option often found on engines used
for wildland firefighting is a separate motor carried for operating the pump. This
option allows for the use of pump while moving.
The pump casing has one or more suction inlets where water can enter the
pump. The water is then directed into the center of the impeller, called the eye.
As the pump impeller spins on its axle, it directs the water to the outside of the
casing, imparting centrifugal energy to the water, hence the term centrifugal
pump. The principle is the same as a merry-go-round. As you stand in the middle
of the disk and it spins faster and faster, you are pushed toward the outside. The
centrifugal pump does the same thing. The impeller consists of a two-sided disk
with vanes between the disks. This design better aids the impeller in transferring
the centrifugal energy to the water. When the water leaves the impeller, it collides
with the pump casing, resulting in increased pressure in the pump. The casing,

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One must be
careful because the
water can become quite
hot if no water is circulated through the pump
for a while, depending
on the speed, possibly
damaging the pump or
causing a scald.

Note
A centrifugal pump
can take full
advantage of any
pressure coming in on
the suction side.

called the volute, is designed as a modified circle with a wider clearance in one
area. As the water builds up pressure, it is forced out of the volute and into the
discharge plumbing. The outflow of the water creates a partial vacuum at the eye
of the impeller, drawing more water into the pump through the suction plumbing.
The discharge plumbing extends out through the pump panel on the side of the
apparatus and has valves and threaded ends for the connection of fire hoses
(Figure 6-23).
The advantages of the centrifugal pump are numerous. The clearances
between the impeller and the pump casing allow the pump to do several things.
It can spin at high rates of speed and build up large amounts of pressure without
discharging any water. This situation occurs when discharge valves and nozzles
are turned on and off at the fire scene. There is not always someone available to
stand by the pumper and operate the throttle as the volume and pressure demand increase and decrease. One must be careful because the water can become
quite hot if no water is circulated through the pump for a while, depending on the
speed, possibly damaging the pump or causing a scald. Another feature is that a
centrifugal pump can take full advantage of any pressure coming in on the suction side, either from another pumper or a hydrant, effectively allowing the motor
driving the pump to work less hard. Centrifugal pumps can also tolerate the
pumping of trash and dirty water to a certain extent. They are equipped with suction screens to keep out debris and rocks that can damage the pump (Figure 6-24).
Attached to the pump is a device provided for the firefighters safety known
as the relief valve or pressure governor. The pressure governor reads the pressure
provided to the hose lines. The maximum pressure is preset at the pump panel.
If a nozzle is shut down or flow is otherwise restricted, the pressure governor
adjusts the throttle setting to the pump motor to keep the remaining lines from
exceeding the preset pressure.

VOLUTE
IMPELLER
VANE

EYE

Figure 6-23 Interior


design of
centrifugal pump.

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161

Figure 6-24 Pump


suction inlet screen
to prevent ingestion
of rocks and other
debris.

Safety

The relief valve


is provided for the
firefighters safety.

static water source


pond, lake, or tank
used to supply fire
engines

Note
The centrifugal pump
can only act on the
water that enters it.

The relief valve is another type of semiautomatic pressure-regulating


device. This spring-operated valve is set at the desired pressure by a handwheel
on the pump operators panel. When the handwheel is turned to the right, the
spring is compressed. The more it is compressed, the higher the actuating
pressure is raised. When actuated, some of the water is redirected from the discharge side of the pump back to the suction side. When the pump is operated
with two or more lines coming from it, if one of the lines were to be shut down,
all of the water would try to exit through the line remaining open, which would
cause a sudden pressure surge in the open line. A pressure surge could cause a
firefighter to lose footing or fall from a ladder. The relief valve effectively
reduces this pressure surge.
The disadvantage of the centrifugal pump is that it can only act on the water
that enters it. It cannot draw water into itself from a static water source. The
water must be introduced under slight pressure, from a hydrant or other pumper,
or another type of pump must be used to create a vacuum in the pump casing,
causing the water to enter. Once the water does enter, the discharge of water from
the pump can keep the vacuum going and the suction is self-sustaining. If the pump
is driven too hard and the suction is exceeded, the pump will start to cavitate (to
form small vapor bubbles in the interior), causing damage to the impeller.
Main fire pumps of the centrifugal type come in sizes ranging from 250 to
2,500 gallons per minute, in increments of 250 gallons per minute. The minimum recognized fire pump is 500 gallons per minute.

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Note
The other type of
pump mounted on fire
apparatus is the
positive displacement
pump.

Note
These pumps have the
advantage of being
able to pump air, thus
making them selfpriming.

Chapter 6

Positive Displacement Pumps The other type of pump mounted on fire apparatus is
the positive displacement pump (Figure 6-25 A and B). This type of pump can
come in several forms: gear pumps, piston pumps (like the hand pumpers), and
diaphragm pumps. The principle is that every time the pump cycles, a specified
amount of fluid is taken in and discharged. If one gallon of water enters on the
suction side at the start of a cycle, one gallon will be discharged from the pressure side at the end of the cycle. As the rate of speed increases, the volume will
increase in direct proportion.
These pumps have the advantage of being able to pump air, thus making
them self-priming. When piggybacked onto a centrifugal pump, the positive displacement pump can evacuate the air in the centrifugal pump. When used for this
purpose, it is called a priming pump because it primes the centrifugal pump.
This action creates a reduction of pressure in the centrifugal pump, which allows
water to be drawn up the suction hose and into the pump. Once the water enters
the pump, pressure is added by the pump and a fire stream can be developed
(Figure 6-26). This occurs because the weight of the atmosphere over the earth

INLET

Figure 6-25 Geartype positive


displacement
pump. A: interior
components,
B: exterior view.

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OUTLET

(A)

(B)

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163

Figure 6-26 Pumper


operating at draft,
taking suction from
static water source.

exerts approximately 14.7 pounds of pressure per square inch on the surface
at sea level. When the atmospheric pressure inside the pump is reduced below
14.7 pounds per square inch, the water is forced up the suction hose and into the
pump.
Because the centrifugal pump cannot pump air because of its loose tolerances, the positive displacement pump is needed to create the vacuum. The positive displacement pump is very small in relation to the centrifugal pump and is
typically driven by an electric motor the size of an automobile starter motor. On
some wildland firefighting engines, the priming pump is hand operated. Another
advantage of positive displacement pumps is that they can create tremendous
pressure when pumping fluids. For applications where high pressure is necessary, like pressure washers, they are the pump of choice.
The disadvantages of positive displacement pumps are enough that they
are not used as main fire pumps. If a positive displacement pump were being
used and the nozzle were turned off, the pressure in the hose would increase
until something blew out. The tolerances are so close that very small debris can
jam the pump. They also do not gain any benefit from water forced into them.
Because of its design, a positive displacement pump of the same gallons per
minute would be much heavier and more expensive than a centrifugal pump.

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If the driver
goes too fast, the tiller
operator can lose control and collide with
parked cars or, even
worse, people standing
on the sidewalk.

Figure 6-27 Aerial


ladder truck with
ladder extended.
(Courtesy of John D.
Friis.)

Fire Department Resources

Aerial Ladder and Elevating Platform Apparatus


Aerial ladder equipment comes in two configurations.6 There is the tractor trailer
type with tiller steering, with the tiller operator sitting in a small cab at the rear of the
apparatus and able to steer the rear wheels (Figure 6-4, page 140). The advantages of
the tractor trailer and tiller types are that they can maneuver in tight spaces and
make sharp corners. The disadvantages are that if the driver goes too fast, the tiller
operator can lose control and collide with parked cars or, even worse, people standing on the sidewalk. The other configuration is the straight chassis (Figure 6-27).
The aerial portion of the apparatus can come in various configurations as
well. There are the extendable ladder types, in which the ladder raises from the
bed and a set of fly sections are extended. These ladders are advantageous in that
personnel can ascend and descend the ladder when it is raised. On this type of
apparatus, the ladder placement is controlled from the operators platform at the
base of the ladder. Some of these apparatus are equipped with an enclosed platform at the ladder tip from which personnel operate. This type is known as an
aerial ladder platform apparatus. The articulated boom type is another design,
in which the boom is raised hydraulically and extended through adjusting the
angle of a knuckle joint (Figure 6-28). This type of aerial apparatus, while very
strong and easy to place from elevated platform controls, is limited in that

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165

Figure 6-28
Articulating boom
aerial. (Courtesy
Eagle Matt-Lee Fire
Co., No. 1, Ballston
Spa, NY)

personnel have to move the basket to the ground to enter or exit. Elevated platforms are good for using heavy tools from the basket, such as a modified jackhammer for breaching walls. In addition to the aerial ladder carried on the truck,
carrying 108 feet of ground ladders is required for the equipment to be classified
as a ladder truck (see also Figure 2-12, page 50).
The ladder truck should be equipped with an intercom system connecting
the person at the tip or in the basket with the operator. Some apparatus come
with breathing air cylinders mounted to the basket so the personnel can use
them as a supply instead of SCBA bottles, which gives them a much longer supply of air. Some aerials have plumbing supplied so water can be pumped to the
tip and applied through elevated streams. This design is called a water tower.
Aerials may be equipped with a fire pump on the apparatus and on others an engine is used to pump the fire stream.

Quint
An apparatus equipped with pump, water tank, ground ladders, hose bed, and
aerial device is called a quint. Such apparatus are used as a pumper and ladder
truck combination.
Note
Squad vehicles are the
specialty vehicles of
the fire service.

Squads
Squad vehicles are the specialty vehicles of the fire service. Just about any time
some special configuration is needed for a specific purpose, the vehicle is called
a squad. Squads are usually strategically located and respond upon request. In

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166

cascade system
a system of large
compressed gas
cylinders connected to
a manifold

tactical support
a vehicle equipped to
provide the needs of
firefighters at the
emergency scene. See
rehab

rehab
short for rehabilitation.
A time in which
firefighters rest, cool
off, and drink liquids to
replenish their body
fluids

backfires
a fire lit in front of an
advancing fire to
remove fuel and
widen control lines

burning out
lighting a fire to
remove fuel along the
flanks of a fire. Also
used to remove
unburned islands that
remain as the fire
advances

Figure 6-29
Hazardous
materials response
team vehicle.

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departments that provide advanced life support medical functions without the
transportation capability of an ambulance, the vehicle may very well be called a
medical squad.
Another form of squad is the special lighting vehicle equipped with a highwattage generator and numerous removable lights and extension cords. Hazardous materials vans and vehicles, designed for a specific purpose and outfitted
with equipment for a specific function, fit the description of squads (Figure 6-29).
Special air units are also squads. They are equipped with extra SCBA
bottles and equipment. Some are equipped with the special compressors for
breathing air or cascade systems. A squad with a compressor or cascade system
allows the filling of SCBA bottles at the scene.
A mobile command post, activated on large assignments, can be called a
squad. Tactical support and rehab vehicles fit the same criteria (Figure 6-30).
A squad type vehicle used in wildland fire fighting is a terra torch (Figure 6-31). This unit has a tank full of jellied gasoline, similar to napalm, that is
squirted from a special nozzle equipped with an igniter. The terra torch is used
to light backfires and perform burning out operations.

Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Apparatus (ARFF)


A type of apparatus specially designed for airport firefighting is the ARFF unit,
also called crash fire rescue (CFR) equipment (Figure 6-32).7 These apparatus are
designed with large water tanks, built-in foam tanks and systems, and are

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Figure 6-30 Tactical


support vehicle.
(Courtesy of John D.
Friis.)

Figure 6-31 Terra


torch igniting
ground fuels.

167

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Figure 6-32 Aircraft


rescue firefighting
(ARFF) vehicle.
turret nozzle
roof or bumper
mounted nozzle
remotely controlled
from inside the cab

ground sweep nozzles


nozzles mounted
underneath apparatus
to sweep fire from
under the vehicle

all-wheel drive for going off runways. They are equipped with turret nozzles on
the roof, forward-facing nozzles on the front bumper, and ground sweep nozzles
to keep fire from beneath them when driving through burning fuel. All of these
nozzles can be remotely controlled from inside the cab, making them a very effective firefighting combination with only one person on board. They are also
equipped with attack lines that can be pulled for firefighting away from the vehicle, such as interior attack in a large aircraft. The apparatus has the capability
of pumping and rolling at the same time. There are suction inlets on the side of
the vehicle that allow them to connect to fire hydrants or fire engines as the need
arises. They are equipped with a minimum of ladders that are used to gain access
to aircraft wing surfaces and interiors.
Another type of aircraft firefighting apparatus is mounted on a standard
truck chassis and is equipped with a twinned system that allows foam and/or
dry chemical extinguishing agent to be applied at the same time. The system has
large tanks of dry chemical agent and expellant gas mounted on the apparatus.
There is a water tank, foam concentrate tank, and pump for the foam system.
These two extinguishing agents are discharged through hose mounted on a reel
with two nozzles connected.

FIRE TOOLS AND APPLIANCES


The fire service utilizes many types of tools and appliances to combat fires, perform rescues and other tasks. Those illustrated here are the more common items,
but not a complete listing.

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169

Hose
Fire hose is used for getting the required water from the source of supply to
where it is needed to control the fire. Fire hose is constructed in several different
ways.8 The most common type is rubber lined with one or more cotton jackets.
The rubber liner prevents leaks while the cotton jacket(s) give the hose resistance
to rupture under high pressure, abrasion resistance, and allow it to maintain flexibility. The problem is that hose of this type is heavy and requires thorough drying inside and out after use (Figure 6-33). When used, the hose must be rolled
up, loaded on the engine and returned to the station to be dried to prevent acids
forming on the inside and mildew on the outside. This condition makes the hose
labor intensive and requires a complete hose change for the engine to be held in
reserve to replace the hose that is drying.
Synthetic hose has been developed that has no rubber liner and will not
mildew. This hose is lighter in weight, more flexible, and can be reloaded on the
engine at the fire scene. Using this type of hose reduces hose inventories required, weighs less, takes up less space in the hose bed of the engine, allowing
more to be carried, and saves time. When returning from a fire with cotton hose,
it is in rolls in the hose bed; synthetic hose is reloaded and ready for the next

Figure 6-33
Firefighter
maintaining hose
by hanging it to dry.

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Note
The hose load carried
on a pumper is
determined by the
type and size of fires
expected to be
encountered.

Figure 6-34 Storz


quick connect fire
hose couplings.

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assignment. Many times an engine has been diverted to another assignment before it was able to return to the station for a fresh hose load.
To connect the hose together each end has a coupling.9 One end has exposed threads and is called the male end. The other has a swivel with interior
threads and is called the female end. Couplings have traditionally been made
of brass but are being replaced by pyrolite. Pyrolite is a lighter weight metal than
brass and more resistant to bending. Couplings are either of the thread type with
national standard thread or of the quick connect (Storz) type (Figure 6-34). The
exception to this is the one-inch hose used in forestry firefighting: It has either
national standard or, most commonly, iron pipe thread. Hose comes in either 50- or
100-foot lengths.
The hose load carried on a pumper is determined by the type and size of
fires expected to be encountered. The hose is carried in the area of the pumper
known as the hose bed. It is designed for easy access and laid out according to
purchaser specification. The hose bed is equipped with a cover to keep water,
burning embers, and other debris off the hose.
Attack lines are laid on the pumper so that they can be pulled by one person,
advanced, and placed into operation as rapidly as possible (Figure 6-35). Attack
lines must be able to supply sufficient amounts of water (gallons per minute),
while not being so heavy or rigid that they cannot be maneuvered. Standard attack lines for structural firefighting are 11 2- or 13 4-inch with 11 2-inch couplings.
Hose of this size offers good flow, in the range of 100 to 200 gallons per minute,
while retaining ease of mobility.

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171

Figure 6-35 A 11 2inch attack line


being placed into
action. (Courtesy of
Emil Alvarado.)

Supply hose is laid in the hose bed so that it can be fed onto the ground as
the engine drives forward (Figure 6-36). This makes it easier to establish a hose
lay in a short period of time.
Supply line hose is designed to be laid out and not moved around very
much, especially when full of water. The past standard was the 21 2-inch hose. Its
attributes were that it could flow respectable amounts of water as supply line as
well as having the capability of being used as an attack line when necessary. A
jurisdiction with mostly rural areas should more likely carry 21 2-inch supply
lines. This allows for more linear feet of hose to be carried to facilitate the longer
hose lays needed in an area with long distances between water supplies. A standard pumper should be able to carry around 2,000 feet or more of 21 2-inch hose
in its hose bed. With a three-pumper relay, one pumper at the water source,
one in the middle of the hose lay, and the third pumper at the fire, it would be
possible to supply water for over a mile. As more pumpers are added, it is theoretically possible to extend the hose lay indefinitely. The relay pumpers are
needed to boost the pressure as a 1,000-foot hose lay at 250 gallons per minute
would require 125 pounds of pressure to overcome the friction of the water going
through the hose. A modern compromise in this area is the three-inch hose with
21 2-inch couplings. It can flow more water with less friction loss, without being
too large to manage when charged. The 21 2-inch couplings allow it to be used
with standard 21 2-inch hose (Figure 6-37).

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Figure 6-36 Hose


bed with supply
hose extended.

Figure 6-37 Hose


lines, 21 2-inch,
three-inch, and
four-inch diameter,
laid in hose bed.

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Note
The smaller diameter
is used because the
hose lays must often
be put in by hand over
rough terrain.

Figure 6-38 Hose


pack and rolls for
wildland
firefighting.

173

In a metropolitan or industrial setting, the emphasis is on larger diameter


hose (LDH) for supply lines, four and five inch, to better supply large volumes of
water to large fires. This hose takes up more space per linear foot than two and
half-inch hose, therefore reducing the total length of hose that can be carried on
a standard pumper. With four-inch diameter hose, a thousand gallons of water
per minute can be pumped a distance of 1,000 feet with only 20 pounds of pressure lost due to friction of the water against the inside of the hose. A hose five
inches or more in diameter would have even less pressure lost to friction. This
large diameter hose comes in 100-foot lengths and a length of it wet and rolled
up may weigh over 100 pounds, making it very hard to hand up into the hose
bed. You can imagine how much work it would be to pick up a 2,000-foot hose
lay. These size lines are where synthetic hose is the most appreciated. It is rolled
to remove the air and then unrolled as it is loaded back into the hose bed. There
is no need to lift the full rolls into the hose bed for transport.
On engines that are used primarily for wildland firefighting, one- and 112-inch
hose are carried. The smaller diameter is used because the hose lays must often
be put in by hand over rough terrain. The hose is carried in rolls or packs,
allowing for easier carrying (Figure 6-38). Wildland firefighters must master the
skill of extending a hose lay while fighting fire.
Some pumpers are equipped with a hose reel that contains either 3 4- or
one-inch hard rubber line (Figure 6-39). This is used for controlling small fires
and saves time because it can just be rerolled on the reel and is ready to go.

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Figure 6-39 Hose


reel with hard
rubber line.

The hard suction hose is rubber or plastic with wire wrapping on the inside that makes the walls stiff (Figure 6-40). When a vacuum is created inside the
hose, it will not collapse. When drafting water from a static source, an engine requires a hose that will stay rigid and let the water through. Hard suction hose is
carried on apparatus for taking water from swimming pools and reservoirs. It
comes in 10-foot lengths and is typically 21 2 or 41 2 inches in diameter. For 1,500gallon-per-minute pumpers it is required to be six inches in diameter. This size
is rarely carried because it is extremely heavy and hard to use. A certain amount
of volume is sacrificed for ease of operation and 412 inch is carried instead.
Another method of taking water from static sources is the floating pump. It
is a small gasoline-powered pump mounted on a floating housing that will pump
a 11 2-inch line at around 90 gallons per minute. Some apparatus also carry nonfloating portable pumps (see Figure 6-57) that are set up at the site and draft
water, pumping it through a hose line into waiting vehicles or portable tanks.

Nozzles
After the water leaves the pump and travels through the hose it is applied to the
fire through the use of nozzles. There are nozzles for most types of hose, ranging
from garden hose to master streams. The nozzles used for wildland firefighting
are for one-inch diameter hose. They turn on and off and adjust the stream by
rotating the nozzle head in relation to the base. They flow approximately 23 gallons per minute and can be used in a straight stream or fog pattern (Figure 6-41).

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Figure 6-40 Hard


suction hoses,
21 2-inch and
four-inch diameter.

Figure 6-41 Nozzles


showing straight
stream and fog
patterns.

175

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It is shut off
when the bail is moved
toward the front of the
nozzle. This safety
feature causes the
nozzle to shut itself off
if dropped.

Figure 6-42
Assortment of
hand-held nozzles.

Fire Department Resources

A quick shutoff can be added for conserving water. They are made of aluminum
to save weight.
The nozzles used on 11 2-, 13 4- and 21 2-inch attack lines are made of
chrome-plated brass or pyrolite. They are called combination nozzles if they
have the capability of straight stream or fog patterns. Most modern attack line
nozzles have an adjustment ring on them for controlling the amount of water
they will flow per minute. This adjustment would typically be from 60 to 125
gallons per minute on a 11 2-inch nozzle and 125 to 250 gallons per minute on a
21 2-inch nozzle. The nozzle is equipped with a swivel female coupling for connecting it to the fire hose. There is a bail handle on the top for opening and closing the nozzle. This is designed so that it is shut off when the bail is moved
toward the front of the nozzle. This safety feature causes the nozzle to shut itself
off if dropped. The nozzle has rubber around the head so it will not be damaged
if bumped into things (Figure 6-42). Nozzles should not be used to break out
windows. This can embed glass in the rubber and cut your hands when you
adjust the stream. A better way is to spray water on a hot window pane, causing
the pane to break, or use the proper tool for the job.
These nozzles can vary in appearance and performance. Some can be
equipped with a pistol grip handle. Others have a plastic ring on the tip that spins
when the nozzle is set for the fog pattern. This spinning action breaks up the

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Note
As the demand for fire
flow, in gallons per
minute, increases, so
do the sizes of the
nozzles.

master stream appliance


large bore nozzle
equipped with a base.
Not designed for
hand-held use

177

fingers of water into a finer fog. There is another class of nozzles called automatic
nozzles. They are designed to give the same reach at different pressures. They
depend on a set of springs inside that adjust the flow rate to the pressure.
A recent innovation is the low back pressure nozzle. As the water leaves the
nozzle, the laws of physics dictate that there will be an equal and opposite reaction, felt as back pressure. This makes it hard to control even average amounts of
flow at normal pressures. If you are flowing 125 gallons per minute at 100 pounds
nozzle pressure, you can definitely feel it. These nozzles reduce the amount of
back pressure to the point that a normal- to smaller-sized person can effectively
control and maneuver a fire stream.
As the demand for fire flow, in gallons per minute, increases, so do the sizes
of the nozzles. The nozzles on these apparatus are not designed for hand-held use
and come in two configurations. There is the adjustable flow, adjustable stream
type, and a set of straight tips of assorted sizes. The adjustable type commonly
flows from 350 to 1,000 gallons per minute and can be used for straight or fog
streams. The straight tips typically range in size from one to two inches in diameter. They are arranged in such a manner that if the smallest one on the end is
unscrewed the next size is available and so on. The advantages to straight tips
is their reach. At the same pressure and flow, a straight tip will far outreach a
combination nozzle. Straight tip nozzles also give better penetration when
directed into interior fires or used to knock out windows or ceiling panels. The
general rule of thumb is that fire streams directed from the street are only effective to the third floor; for this reason these large flow nozzles are also mounted on
aerial apparatus where they can be directed through windows, onto roofs, over
walls, or used to cool convection columns.
Pumper apparatus carry a master stream appliance that is built in and/or
removable. If built in, the appliance is mounted on the top of the apparatus
(Figure 6-43). Some of these are detachable and come with a mounting base that
is attached for operation remote from the pumper. The advantage to having the
nozzle built in is it can be used for a quick, massive attack on a fire. The problem
lies in that it is a one-shot deal. If supply lines are not laid and the pumper is
working solely from its tank, a nozzle set at 500 gallons per minute will empty
the tank, depending on size, in one to two minutes. This can leave you with a fire
that is still out of control and no water. However, it may be able to stop a fire before it has a chance to spread.
Another creative use of this type of setup is to equip the top-mounted
nozzle with a straight tip for attacking roadside grass and brush fires, or for situations with steep terrain or wind where a ground attack will not catch the fire.
The master stream is used to try to snuff the head of the fire before it gets out of
reach. The reasoning is that if you do not catch the fire now, it will grow beyond
control in a few minutes. You might as well take your best shot.
A detachable, remotely operated master stream, called a monitor, is used
when the pumper cannot gain access to the location where the nozzle is needed
or it would be unsafe to locate the pumper and personnel close to the fire. The

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Figure 6-43 Enginemounted master


stream device in
operation.

Note
If someone thought of
a better way of
applying water, a
nozzle was developed
to fill the need.

nozzle base is equipped with several 212-inch inlets that are equipped with clapper valves. Clapper valves are one-way check valves that allow water into the
base from the hose lines, but will close off any hose inlet that is not in use, so not
all of the inlets need to be used. This allows the monitor to be placed into
operation while only one hose line is attached and others are being laid. To operate in a remotely located situation the monitor is placed and supply lines are laid
between the pumper and the monitor. This operation is commonly used in oil refinery fires. In this situation the nozzle is placed and secured and the personnel
withdraw to a safe location while fire control operations are performed.
A type of nozzle that comes in all of the previously described sizes is the
foam nozzle. This nozzle is designed to aerate the foam solution coming through
the hose, giving the foam a light fluffy appearance that makes it easier to see, and
in some situations, making the foam more effective.
Another type of master stream appliance is the Terminator (Figure 6-44).
It has an adjustable nozzle capable of flowing 2,000 gallons per minute. It is
mounted on its own trailer so it can be towed to the fire by a vehicle and rolled
around for ease of placement by hand. It also comes equipped with a pump to
place foam concentrate into the hose stream.
All of the types of nozzles available to todays firefighter are too numerous
to list. There are wall-piercing nozzles, cellar nozzles, distributor nozzles, and

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179

Figure 6-44
Terminator
nozzle, capable of
flowing 2,000
gallons per minute.

Safety

When using inline foam inductors, it


is extremely important
to follow the manufacturers requirements as
to the pump pressure,
flow rate set on the
nozzle, length of line
after the inductor, and
elevation of the nozzle
over the inductor.

many others. Basically, if someone thought of a better way of applying water, a


nozzle was developed to fill the need. As building construction methods and materials change, nozzles will too.
Another appliance that has found its way onto most fire pumpers is the
foam inductor. This device is equipped with a female and male coupling and is
inserted into the hose line. It has a suction tube that is inserted into a five-gallon
can or 55-gallon drum of foam concentrate. Through the use of the venturi principle the foam concentrate is drawn up through the suction hose and enters
the hose line to be discharged as foam solution at the nozzle. When using in-line
foam inductors, it is extremely important to follow the manufacturers requirements as to the pump pressure, flow rate set on the nozzle, length of line after
the inductor, and elevation of the nozzle over the inductor. All of these factors
influence the quality of the foam produced.

Fittings
To give firefighters versatility in constructing hose lays and accessing water supplies, pumpers carry a wide variety of fittings (Figure 6-45). There are double
male and double female fittings in all of the hose sizes carried on the pumper.
These allow the firefighter to connect two hose lays together that were laid in different directions. Otherwise one of the hose lays would have to be reversed.
There are reducers and increasers. When we talk about fittings we describe them

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Figure 6-45
Reducers and
adapters for
connecting
hoselines.

vacuum truck
tank truck equipped
with a pump that
evacuates the air from
inside the tank
causing it to draw a
vacuum. Used for
picking up liquids
from spills or tanks

by the female fitting first. If a fitting were adapted from 21 2-inch female to 11 2inch male, it would be a reducer and if it were a 11 2-inch female to 21 2-male it
would be an increaser. Some adapters are for changing the thread. If we wanted
to extend a one-inch line off the end of a 11 2-inch line, we would have to change
from national standard thread to iron pipe thread as well as changing the coupling diameter. This fitting could be called a reducer/adapter. A very common
adapter is used for attaching the four- or 41 2-inch front mount suction hose on a
pumper to a hydrant with a 21 2-inch outlet. In areas where water is available
from plumbing systems on wells and tanks, such as rural areas, the pumper
should carry a set of adapters to attach its national standard thread hose fittings
to iron pipe thread fittings in the 11 2-, two-, and three-inch pipe sizes. In areas
where vacuum trucks are prevalent, many pumpers carry fittings that allow the
adaptation from cam lock fittings to iron pipe thread or directly to national standard thread. This gives firefighters the capability of using the vacuum truck as a
water tender.
Other fittings are used to divide and combine hose layouts (Figure 6-46). A
wye is used to divide a hose line into two hose lines. The wye is equipped with
a female fitting on the incoming side and male fittings on the discharge side.
These can be the same size, as in one 21 2 to two 21 2-inch or, more commonly one
21 2-inch to two 11 2-inch. If the wye is equipped with shut-offs, it is called a
gated wye; without shut-offs, it is a straight wye.

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181

Figure 6-46 Wyes


and siamese for
splitting and joining
hoselines.

The fitting used for combining hose lines is called a siamese. The siamese is
equipped with two female fittings on the incoming side and a male fitting on the
discharge side. It can be equipped with clapper valves that close automatically
under pressure. These clappers allow water to enter from one female end without
leaking out of the other femalemale ends if only one line is attached or charged.

Ladders

Safety

The ladders
carried on all apparatus
should meet the
required specifications
for firefighting use.

The NFPA Standard 1901, Automotive Fire Apparatus requires that pumpers
carry a minimum of one straight ladder at least 14 feet in length with roof hooks.
They also require an extension ladder of at least 24 feet in length and a folding
ladder commonly called an attic ladder that is 10 feet in length. The attic ladder
is used primarily for gaining access to the access hole to the attic in structures.
The ladders carried on all apparatus should meet the required specifications for
firefighting use (Figure 6-47).10

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus


SCBA are required equipment on pumpers and are designed for firefighting.11
These devices allow the firefighters to work safely in environments with inhalation hazards such as toxic smoke and oxygen deficiency. The SCBA consists of a
backpack, air bottle, face mask, and regulator. It is designed to operate in the

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Figure 6-47 Folding


attic ladder, roof
ladder, and
extension ladder.

positive pressure mode


SCBA regulator
function that keeps
positive pressure in
the mask face piece at
all times

Safety

They are
designed to operate in
the positive pressure
mode so if there is a
face mask seal leak, the
firefighter does not
breathe any harmful
products.

positive pressure mode so if there is a face mask seal leak, the firefighter does not
breathe any harmful products. The backpack is designed to be donned quickly. It
has adjustable shoulder and waist straps to fit different size users. The air cylinder
carries the compressed air that the firefighter will be breathing. It may be steel, carbon fiber, or fiberglass wrapped aluminum. It is equipped with an air gauge that
shows how much air it contains and a handwheel for turning it on and off.
The mask covers the face with a clear plastic face piece for visibility. Straps on the
mask hold it securely to the head. A new trend is to the built-in communication system that allows the person wearing the mask to communicate on the radio and/or
through a speaking diaphragm. The regulator adjusts the pressure of the air from
that in the tank to a pressure that can safely be breathed. It is equipped with a lowpressure warning bell or whistle to let firefighters know when they are close to
running out of air and should leave the work area for a safe area.

Hand Tools
Firefighters are always looking for ways to do their jobs with greater speed,
safety, and efficiency with fewer than the necessary people at scene to get the job
done. Often lives and much property are at stake. Firefighters follow the Boy
Scout motto of Be prepared. A question one must keep in mind is, If you are at
scene and you need it immediately and did not bring the equipment with you,
just exactly how are you going to get it?
Firefighters carry just about every type of hand tool imaginable. As well as
regular hand tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers, the fire engine is equipped

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Note
Firefighters are
always looking for
ways to do their jobs
with greater speed,
safety, and efficiency
with fewer than the
necessary people at
scene to get the job
done.

Figure 6-48
Spanners and
hydrant wrench.

183

with tools specially designed for firefighting needs. Hose wrenches that aid in
the tightening and loosening of fittings are called spanners. Hydrant wrenches
are carried for opening and closing fire hydrants (Figure 6-48).
For vehicle extrication and rescue, fire equipment carry specially designed
rescue tools. Designed to be placed in the gap between the car door and the body,
these tools exert up to 60,000 pounds of force to pop the door open. They can
also be equipped with cutters to cut the pillars that attach the roof (Figure 6-49).
Equipped with special high-strength chains, they can be used to pull the steering column up and away from the victim. Gas-powered circular saws with metal
cutting blades used to be in common use for vehicle rescue operations. After
several accidents involving flammable vapors and sparks produced by cutting
operations, which injured and killed firefighters and victims, their use has been
curtailed. For taking out the side windows on a car for victim access the springloaded hand-held punch works very well. It shatters the glass without spreading
it all over the victims as striking the window with an axe would.
Another rescue tool that is gaining in popularity is the air bag system
(Figure 6-50). These bags are inflated through their own regulator from a selfcontained breathing apparatus bottle and, depending on size, are capable of lifting from 12 to 70 tons. They are used for lifting vehicles and heavy objects off
victims and other lifting jobs. They can also be used to roll/lift the dash by running the chain across the top of them and then inflating. Their advantage is in

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Figure 6-49
Hydraulic rescue
tool with spreader
and cutter.

composition roofing
tar paper and shingles
or tar paper covered
with roofing asphalt.

their thinness, less than an inch when deflated, which allows them to be easily
slipped into narrow spaces. They are effective in soft dirt where a rescue tool
would dig into the ground and are not a source of ignition when flammable vapors are a danger to the operation.
For ventilating roofs several tools are available. For working on composition
roofing the axe was a traditional choice. The next development in this area was
the gas-powered circular saw with a wood cutting blade. The gas-powered circular saw with metal cutting blade is effective on metal sheeting roofs. The tool
of choice for todays firefighter is the chain saw. Quick, lightweight, and easily
used on different thicknesses of roofing, it is gaining in popularity. When clay or
concrete tile roofing needs to be removed, to get at the wooden roof sheeting with
a saw, a sledge hammer or pike axe is used to break the tiles. Once the cuts are
made, an axe, rubbish hook, or pike poe can be used to remove the desired material. The ventilation crew should always take a pike pole with them to poke out
the ceiling below the roof to complete ventilation to the outside.
A tool that has made great inroads into the firefighting field is the power
fan. Traditional smoke ejectors are electric fans that draw the smoke from the
building. They had to be hung in windows and doorways and supplied with
electricity to operate. They tended to be inefficient and often got in the way. The
new tool for this purpose is the power fan that is powered by a gasoline engine,
electricity, or water, depending on type (Figure 6-51). When used, it is placed

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185

Figure 6-50 Air bags


for heavy lifting.
(Courtesy of Vetter
Systems.)

back from the doorway so that its cone of forced air covers the opening. This
placement leaves the doorway open for access by the firefighters. These fans
move so much air that they can evacuate the smoke from a three-bedroom home
in a few minutes. They can also be used to pressurize stairwells in high-rise
buildings to keep them free of smoke when firefighting operations require doors
onto fire floors to be opened. Their greatest advantage is that they help reduce
the number of times that roof ventilation is required at structure fires. In todays
lightweight construction, roofs are collapsing sooner and firefighters are in great
danger of falling through and being injured or killed while performing roof
ventilation. A power fan can be placed and started by one person in a matter of
minutes and then left to operate. A roof ventilation crew usually consisted of at

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Figure 6-51
Gasoline-powered
ventilation fan.

Safety

In todays
lightweight construction, roofs are
collapsing sooner and
firefighters are in
great danger of falling
through and being
injured or killed while
performing roof
ventilation.

least three people going above the fire. It took them a while to place their ladders,
evaluate the roof, and effect ventilation.
Salvage covers are tarps used by firefighters to protect a buildings contents
from water and falling debris damage (Figure 6-52). A salvage cover spread on
the floor makes quick work of cleaning up a room after pulling the ceiling and
spilling the insulation all over the floor. It can also be used to channel water
down stairs and to make temporary catch basins. A salvage cover laid over ladders can be used to make a sump for drafting.
Almost all fire equipment carries a fire extinguisher of one type or another.
Many fire departments have a person detailed to carry a 21 2-gallon water extinguisher into structure fires. This amount of water is often sufficient to extinguish
a small fire without pulling hoses inside.
The amount and complexity of the medical aid equipment carried on fire
apparatus depends in large part on the level of life support provided. The two
basic components of a life-support system are the resuscitator and the medical
aid kit (Figure 6-53). The resuscitator allows the firefighters to administer oxygen
to patients. It can also be used to ventilate victims during cardiopulmonary
resuscitation and has a suction device for removing vomit and other material
from the patients mouth. The medical aid kit is a first aid kit containing an assortment of bandages and tools necessary to stop bleeding. The next step above
basic life support (BLS) is the automatic external defibrillator (AED). It is used to

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Figure 6-52 Salvage


covers spread to
protect room
contents before
ceiling was pulled.

Figure 6-53
Resuscitator and
first aid kit with
firefighters in EMS
PPE.

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convert the heart rhythm of a patient in fibrillation to an organized rhythm. In a


department where advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) is provided, the equipment and the treatment available are more complicated.
Most fire engines are equipped with a gasoline-powered generator and detachable lights. These lights are used to illuminate the scene when the electricity has been turned off or there is none available. If the engine carries electrically
operated tools, the generator should be capable of powering them also.

Thermal Imaging Cameras


Thermal imaging cameras (Figure 6-54 & 6-55) are used by the fire service for rescue and finding heat sources. They are battery operated and either hand held or

Figure 6-54

Figure 6-55

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189

helmet mounted. Looking through the viewfinder, the firefighter sees sources of
higher heat as white or gray against a black background. The use of the camera
allows the operator to determine heat sources in limited visibility situations.
They are very effective at locating victims in smoky atmospheres or people
ejected from vehicles in tall vegetation. They can also be used to find fire hidden
in walls, hot electrical items, and other heat sources. Their use speeds up rescue
and fire source location and minimizes damage in tearing open walls, floors, and
ceilings to look for hidden fire. Firefighters must be properly trained and have
experience in thermal imaging operation and use to ensure accuracy in identifying heat source images.

Wildland Firefighting Hand Tools


duff
leaves, pine needles,
and other dead forest
material

forest litter
the components of
duff including tree
limbs

Figure 6-56
Wildland
firefighting tools.
Left to right (top):
axes, Pulaski,
McLeods, fire
broom, shovel;
(bottom) fusees,
flagging tape, and
canteen.

In areas where wildland fire fighting is a function of the department, specially


designed tools will be carried (Figure 6-56). One of these tools is the McLeod,
a tool that has a scraping blade on one side of the head and a rake on the other.
The scraper is used to remove fuel, such as grass, down to mineral soil to form a
fire break. The rake side of the McLeod is used to remove heavy duff and forest
litter. The Pulaski consists of a grubbing blade on one side of the head and an
axe on the other. The grubbing blade is used for digging out roots and removing
sage and other types of brush and for loosening the ground in preparation for

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crown fire
fire in the tops of
trees. These fires
move very rapidly and
defy control efforts

Safety

Wildland
firefighters prefer to
keep their tools very
sharp and great care
must be exercised when
operating around or
with these tools as they
can cause very bad cuts.

Figure 6-57
pump.

Portable

the scraping tools that follow. The axe side of the head is used for removing the
lower limbs of trees (lollipopping) and chopping heavier fuels. The Pulaski,
due to its awkward balance, is not a very good chopping tool compared to an
axe and great care should be taken in its use. The shovel carried for wildland
firefighting is shorter than a standard shovel and has a more pointed head. This
makes it a better scraping tool. It can also be used for throwing dirt to cool
down hot spots. When properly sharpened, it can also be used to lollipop tree
limbs. Lollipopping prevents fire from climbing the dead limbs at the lower
levels of trees to prevent crown fires. A new tool is the Combi, which has a
swivel head much like a trenching shovel. It can be used as a shovel, grub hoe,
and chopping tool. Chain saws are also used for wildland firefighting. They are
used to fell trees, buck up limbs and logs, and to create fire breaks in brush.
Wildland firefighters prefer to keep their tools very sharp and great care must
be exercised when operating around or with these tools as they can cause very
bad cuts.
Portable tanks and portable pumps are often set up on forest fires (Figure 6-57).
Through the use of the pumps, tanks, and hose lays, water supplies can be established in areas that are inaccessible to vehicles. The water is sometimes used to fill
backpack pumps. A backpack pump consists of a five-gallon water bag or can with
shoulder straps and a hand-operated pump wand that forces the water out of a
nozzle. Some models of the backpack pump are called the Indian pump. These are
primarily used for mop up due to their limited carrying capacity.

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HEAVY EQUIPMENT
Fire departments that have wildland areas or special needs have heavy equipment in the form of bulldozers to establish fire control lines in brush, timber, and
grass. In the West, dozers are equipped with blades and discs. In the southeastern United States, they are often equipped with a plow for creating fire lines in
heavy tangle undergrowth and boggy areas. Some of these dozers are equipped
with built-in water tanks and pumps with hose reels (Pumper Cat). They are
used to provide water in areas inaccessible to wheeled equipment. To get the
heavy equipment to the fire, the department has to have heavy transports, consisting of truck tractors and low boy trailers.
In most areas, dozers of the D-5 or D-6 size are used. Bigger dozers are so
large and have such a wide blade that it is hard to transport them on narrow
mountain roads. They are also so heavy that they tend to destroy old roads that
were originally designed to carry stagecoaches. (See Figure 2-3, page 37.) The exception to this is areas with heavy concentrations of mature brush. The Los
Angeles County Fire Department utilizes bulldozers in the D-9 category to push
through dense brush, and these dozers can also cut fireline uphill at a faster rate
of speed than the smaller dozers.
In areas where oil production and refining operations are a problem, a
special foam unit is an asset. The foam unit consists of a large tank for the foam
concentrate and a pump with a motor to add the concentrate to the fire stream.
The foam unit may also carry special foam nozzles and appliances not carried
on other apparatus. When met at the scene by several engines or a water tender,
the foam unit has firefighting capability away from established water supplies.

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)


To protect firefighters in various types of dangerous environments many types of
specialized protective clothing are required. The layering of protection provides
a greater margin of safety.

Station/Work Uniforms

Safety

Any material
made from nylon or related synthetic fibers
has the possibility of
melting to your skin.

Modern firefighter work uniforms are made primarily of fire resistant fabrics,12
which provide another layer of protection under the PPE worn for firefighting.
The station/work uniform is not a substitute for wearing the proper PPE. For any
kind of firefighting, cotton underwear should be worn. Any material made from
nylon or related synthetic fibers has the possibility of melting to your skin. You
should never get in a situation with this kind of heat, but fires can be unpredictable and accidents do happen. The more layers you have on, the better you
are protected from external heat. Some departments are experimenting with

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long sleeve T-shirts under wildland fire shirts for added protection. There is
discussion about whether even plastic watch bands should not be worn as they
may melt under extreme conditions.

Structure Fire PPE


Note
The firefighters first
line of defense
against the harmful
effects of heat and
flame is personal
protective equipment.

Figure 6-58
Firefighters in full
structural firefighting PPE.

The firefighters first line of defense against the harmful effects of heat and flame
is personal protective equipment. This equipment is designed as a system for
your safety and all components should be worn when the situation dictates. For
structural firefighting, the turnout uniform and SCBA are used (Figure 6-58). The
turnout uniform consists of a helmet with a hood or other ear protection, turnout

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Safety

Interior attack
structural firefighting
is performed in a hot,
dark, smoky environment, often crawling
around on your hands
and knees, and all of
your body needs
protection.

193

coat, turnout pants, gloves, and boots. Designed and tested to resist impacts, the
helmet is equipped with an internal suspension system to help absorb impact
forces.13 The helmet can be constructed of one of several materials, with highimpact plastic becoming the norm. It should have reflective material on the exterior. It has a long brim on the back to keep hot water and melting roofing tar from
going down the back of your neck. Eye protection in the form of a face shield or
goggles should be included for use when an SCBA is not used. The turnout coat
is constructed of an outer shell of a material that will not support combustion and
has reflective stripes.14 There are two layers of inner liner, one a vapor barrier to
keep water and other liquids out and the other an insulating material to protect
from heat. The coat should never be worn without the inner liner in place. The
coat is equipped with either snaps and hooks or Velcro to secure the front flap,
and a high collar that is raised and snapped in place. The pants are constructed
in the same manner. Gloves are necessary to protect your hands from heat and
debris. For a time, plastic-coated gloves were used: They kept the hands dry but
tended to melt to the skin under high temperatures. Firefighting gloves are now
made of leather with long knit cuffs to protect the wrists.15 Remember, interior attack structural firefighting is performed in a hot, dark, smoky environment, often
crawling around on your hands and knees, and all of your body needs protection.
Firefighting boots are made of rubber or leather with tread soles and have steel toe
and sole protection.16 Several items that often come in handy and should be carried in your pockets are a knife, a piece of rope, and a flashlight.

Personal Alarm/Personal Alert Safety System


All firefighters are required to carry, either on their turnout coat or SCBA, a personal alarm device (PAL or PASS).17 These devices emit a loud alarm signal
when the person wearing them does not move for approximately 30 seconds.
Their purpose is to help others find you if you become trapped or are rendered
unconscious. It is your responsibility to make sure to turn it on before engaging
in firefighting operations. Some new SCBA models have PASS that activate automatically when the air is turned on. With accounting for personnel being such
an important part of firefighting safety, some departments are equipping members with removable helmet tags or other identifiers. These are gathered at a
point at the incident to assist in keeping track of who is assigned where. In the
future, each person may be equipped with a bar code, and a portable scanner
would be used to record their passing a certain point at the scene.

Proximity Suits
The PPE worn primarily by aircraft firefighters is called a proximity suit.18 It consists of a system that includes boots, pants, coat, gloves, and hood with internal
helmet. The suit is made of an aluminized material to reflect heat and the facepiece

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is specially coated to reflect heat as well. The key point is that it is a proximity
suit, it is not designed for walking through fire (see Figure 6-32, page 168).

Wildland PPE
The wildland firefighting uniform (Figure 6-59) consists of a hard hat type helmet with goggles, and ear and neck protection in the form of a shroud attached
inside the helmet. The helmet is plastic, so as not to attract lightning. A fire shirt
of fire resistant material is worn to protect from heat and hot embers. The pants
worn should be made of fire resistive material. Boots, at least eight inches in
height with lug soles should be worn.19 Dry grass is slippery, and ankle protection from hot material on the ground is a must. When stumps and roots burn out

Figure 6-59
Firefighter in
wildland firefighting PPE.

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Safety

In a wildland
fire situation, you
should never leave the
limited safety of your
apparatus without your
fire shelter.

195

under the ground, they are not always evident. It is relatively easy to have the
ground collapse and drop your foot into a bed of hot coals. You should always
carry a compass and canteens of water with you.
Another part of the wildland PPE is the fire shelter (Figure 6-60). It is a
small tent, folded up in a container, that you carry on your belt. It is made of an
aluminized fabric and can be quickly unfolded. You should never leave the limited safety of your apparatus in a wildland fire situation, without your fire shelter with you. Some firefighters have got into the habit of carrying the fire shelter
in their backpack instead of having it readily available. The South Canyon incident of Storm King Mountain in Colorado in the summer of 1994 showed the
importance of having the fire shelter ready and being able to deploy it quickly. At
this fire, the situation changed in a matter of seconds and 14 firefighters were
overrun and killed by the fire.20

Emergency Medical PPE


For responding to medical aid calls firefighters need to be protected as well.21
A disposable, long-sleeved shirt of moisture resistant material should be worn.
Latex or vinyl gloves are worn on the hands. Eye protection and face mask
protection is also a good idea. Use of these items prevents exposure to blood
and other body fluids that may be splashed or dripped on you (see Figure 6-53,
page 187).

Figure 6-60 Fire


shelter, folded for
carry and set up.

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Case
Study
The South Canyon
incident of Storm King
Mountain in Colorado
in the summer of 1994
showed the
importance of having
the fire shelter ready
and being able to
deploy it quickly.

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AIRCRAFT
Aircraft are assuming a larger role in fire-fighting operations. There are basically
two types of aircraft: fixed-wing (airplanes) and rotary wing (helicopters).
Fixed-wing aircraft are used to transport crews to fires, sometimes across the
country. Another method of crew delivery is the smoke jumper plane. These firefighters board the plane with their tools, supplies, and equipment and parachute
into the area near the fire. When they are done with the fire, they either hike out
to a pickup spot with their equipment or are picked up by helicopter.

Fixed-Wing
Fixed-wing aircraft are also used as air tankers (Figure 6-61). Tankers range
in size from two-engine S-2s to four-engine DC-7s and C-130s. Depending on aircraft size they can deliver up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant per load to be
dropped on the fire. The largest used is a Martin-Mars Flying Boat that carries
7,000 gallons.22 Their limitation is that they cannot operate at night, in high
winds, or heavy smoke. In areas of steep, narrow canyons they may not be able to
fly low enough to effectively drop on the fire. Their turnaround time to return
to their base and refill slows them down. Their main advantage is their ability
to cover long distances relatively quickly. If the only air tanker available is
300 miles away, it can still be over your fire in a fairly short period of time. A new
concept in aircraft is the Canadair CL-215 air tanker. This aircraft can drop down
over the surface of a large lake or the ocean and fill itself. It looks much like a

Figure 6-61 Air


tanker making
retardant drop.

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197

sea plane with high-mounted engines, pontoons on the wings, and a boat hullshaped fuselage.

Rotary Wing
helispots
unimproved areas
large enough to land a
helicopter

rappel
to descend by means
of a rope

sling load
material transported
by being placed in a
net suspended
underneath a
helicopter

Figure 6-62
Helicopter with
firefighting bucket.
(Courtesy of
Columbia
Helicopters.)

Rotary wing aircraft (helicopters) are rapidly gaining in use by firefighting forces.
They can transport crews to remote areas and drop them off at helispots that are
nothing more than openings in the forest canopy, either meadows or ridge tops.
Helitack crews are trained to rappel from the helicopter to the ground if no landing area is available. Helicopters can sling load supplies and equipment to and
from the fire line. When dropping water or fire retardant, helicopters are capable
of pinpoint accuracy on burning snags, buildings, and hot spots. They do not
need an airport and runways to operate. Some are equipped with fixed tanks and
others are equipped with buckets (Figure 6-62). The fixed tank craft either land

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198

infrared sensing devices


devices that can
detect heat energy
through smoke and
clouds. Used for aerial
mapping of fire edges
and locating hot spots

Note
The advantages of
aircraft in direct fire
fighting operations
are the delivery of fire
retardant or water in
areas that are
inaccessible by
pumpers or that are
untenable on the
ground.

Figure 6-63
Helicopter filling
2,000-gallon belly
tank with snorkel.
(Courtesy of Ken
Chapman, Erickson
Air-Crane Co.)

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and are refilled from a pumper or have a built-in pump with a tube hanging
down that is dipped into a water source. The pump fills the tank while the helicopter hovers. These pumps are hydraulically driven and can fill the 2,000gallon tank in one minute (Figure 6-63). They are capable of operating out of a
water source only 18 inches deep. The bucket-equipped helicopter hovers over
the water source and dangles the bucket into the water. Their operations are
hampered by high winds and heavy smoke, just like the air tankers.
Overall, the advantages of aircraft in direct firefighting operations are the
delivery of fire retardant or water in areas that are inaccessible by pumpers or
that are untenable on the ground. They can slow down a fast-moving fire enough
to allow ground forces to gain the upper hand. They have also saved lives in
their ability to place a drop when and where it is needed to keep ground forces
from being overrun in a bad situation. Aircraft of both types are also used to fly
reconnaissance missions. By flying over the fire area with infrared sensing
devices, the personnel can determine where hot spots exist and map the fire
edge through smoke and poor visibility.23 They can also determine where fire
control lines have been completed and where they need to be reinforced or
extended.

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199

SUMMARY
This chapter has only scratched the surface of the
tools and equipment available to firefighters. New
tools and equipment are constantly being developed or adapted to firefighting use to make the job
safer, faster, and more efficient.
The facilities described in this chapter are
not available and not needed at every fire department; they are only a representative sample of the
facilities that do exist.
The equipment covered varies due to department needs. Depending on the types of incidents encountered and requirements placed on
the fire apparatus, it is adapted and modified.
Fancy equipment is not necessary to get the job
done. Before the invention of all of the power
tools mentioned, fires were put out and victims

were rescued. The new tools certainly do make it


easier and safer for us to perform our jobs. It is
important not to become so dependent on power
tools that we become ineffective when they are
not available or will not start.
The one resource not covered was the most
important one, the firefighter. Without intelligent,
trained, aggressive firefighters, the fanciest and
most expensive facilities and equipment in the
world are worth nothing. Always remember, skill
and knowledge are what makes the whole system
work. The best firefighters are capable not only of
using all of the tools available to them, but also
adapting those tools to new uses and performing
in their absence.

REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. List several advantages of a fire department
having its headquarters separate from a fire
station.
2. List three structures that may be located at
the training facility and their uses.
3. What is meant by an enhanced 911 system?
4. Why is the diesel motor chosen for most
pumper apparatus?
5. Explain the difference between centrifugal
and positive displacement pumps
6. Why is a centrifugal pumper equipped with
a positive displacement pump in conjunction with the main pump?
7. List three types of squad vehicles and their
functions.
8. What is meant by a twinned system
on Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF)
apparatus?

9. What is the difference between attack and


supply hose lines? Give examples of each.
10. List the four main components of a selfcontained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
11. What are the uses of a resuscitator?
12. List three wildland firefighting tools and
their uses.
13. What are the components of structural personal protective equipment (PPE)?
14. What are the components of wildland PPE?
15. What are the components of EMS PPE?
16. What fits the description of fixed wing fire
fighting aircraft? Give two examples of their
uses.
17. What fits the description of rotary wing fire
fighting aircraft? Give two examples of their
uses.

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Why is the centrifugal pump chosen as the
main fire pump for most fire apparatus?
2. Why does the fire service need a variety of vehicle types to perform its function efficiently?

3. Why is it important to wear all of your PPE


for a specific fire (structure, wildland, ARFF,
etc.) every time?

NOTES
1. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1402 Building Fire Service Training
Centers (Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2002).
2. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1403 Live Fire Training Evolutions
(Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2002).
3. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1911 Service Tests of Pumps on Fire Department Apparatus (Quincy, MA: National
Fire Protection Association, 2002).
4. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1221 Communications, Emergency Services (Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection
Association, 2002).
5. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1901 Automotive Fire Apparatus
(Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2003).
6. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1914 Fire Department Aerial Devices,
Testing (Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2002).
7. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 414 Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting
Vehicles (Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2001).
8. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1961 Fire Hose (Quincy, MA: National
Fire Protection Association, 2002).

9. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1963 Fire Hose Connections (Quincy,
MA: National Fire Protection Association,
2003).
10. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1932 Use, Maintenance and Service
Testing of In-Service Fire Department
Ground Ladders (Quincy, MA: National Fire
Protection Association, 2004).
11. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1981 Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for Fire and Emergency
Services (Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2002).
12. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1975 Station/Work Uniforms (Quincy,
MA: National Fire Protection Association,
2004).
13. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1971 Protective Ensemble for Structural
Fire Fighting (Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2000).
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1982 Personal Alert Safety Systems
(PASS) (Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 1998).
18. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1976 Protective Ensemble for Proximity

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Fire Fighting (Quincy, MA: National Fire


Protection Association, 2000).
19. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1977 Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting (Quincy, MA:
National Fire Protection Association, 1998).
20. South Canyon Fire Investigation (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office,
1994).

201

21. National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1999 Protective Clothing for Medical
Emergency Operations (Quincy, MA: National
Fire Protection Association, 2003).
22. National Fire Equipment System Course
Manual, S-370 Intermediate Air Operations,
Aircraft Types (Boise, ID: National Interagency Fire Center, 2002).
23. Ibid.

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14
EMERGENCY OPERATIONS
Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to
Identify the role of the fire department at various types of emergencies.
List limitations of the fire department in certain emergency types.
List important safety considerations when operating at different types of emergencies.

414

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415

INTRODUCTION

mitigation
reducing the hazard,
making less severe

Note
The fire department is
not the only agency
that shows up at an
emergency scene and
has a say in
determining how the
incident is handled.

The emergency functions of the fire department can be divided into two
general areas, operations and support. Operations refer to the actual application of resources directly to the mitigation of incidents. The operational staff
of the fire department consists of the people in the fire stations and their
supervisors.
Support functions are those that aid the front line personnel in performing
their jobs. These can include mechanical repair services, dispatching, training,
and personnel services.
One of the fundamental roles of the fire department is to respond to
emergencies. Not every call is an emergency and not every emergency is the
responsibility of the fire department to handle. In many types of incidents,
the fire department does what it can in light of its legal and resource limitations. A well-trained firefighter should be able to deal with most types of
emergency situations. You may not be trained in that particular situation, but
many of the basic rules apply and can be used as a guide to action in unusual
situations.

PERSONNEL
The personnel who can be expected to respond to an emergency depends on
the emergency type. Just as some doctors specialize in different types of medicine and parts of the human body, the fire department has its own specialists.
These personnel have become trained in special emergency types as well as
being competent in the regular fire department functions, such as firefighting
and medical aid.
The fire department is not the only agency that shows up at an emergency
scene and has a say in determining how the incident is handled (Figure 14-1).
The police and other public agencies assist and sometimes are in command of
incidents in which the fire department is involved. In some types of incidents
the number of representatives from other agencies outnumber the firefighters
who perform the necessary tasks to mitigate the incident.

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Figure 14-1
Firefighters and
ambulance
personnel at vehicle
accident.

LIFE SAFETY INITIATIVES


In 2004 the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation examined the causes of line
of duty firefighter deaths. As a result of this meeting they put forth the Life Safety
Initiatives to be followed by all firefighters. The initiatives may be applied to any
type of incident.
Duty and responsibilityMake every day a training day so everyone
goes home.
Firefighter maintenance programReceive regular medical checkups,
get regular exercise, and eat healthy.
Rehab guidelinesStop before you drop, stay hydrated, and monitor
vital signs.
Passengers when responding to incidentsWear full PPE, get in the
apparatus, sit down, fasten your seatbelt, and ride with drivers who will
get you there in one piece.
Drivers responding to incidentsIt is not a race; safe is more important
than fast. Stop at all red lights and stop signs, and if others do not pull
overdont run them over.

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Emergency Operations

Interior firefightingWork as a team, stay together, stay oriented, manage your air supply, take the proper tools with you for any interior operation. Every member should have a radio, provide constant updates, and
constantly assess for risk versus benefit.

Rapid Intervention Teams


The assignment of one or more rapid intervention team companies (RIT/RIC) at
working incidents provides the ability to immediately initiate a rescue effort to
locate, rescue, or assist firefighters who are in trouble at the scene of an incident.
RIT members should be standing by wearing their full protective clothing with
self-contained breathing apparatus ready for immediate use. They should have
forcible entry tools, rescue rope, and any other equipment that could be needed
quickly. At hazardous materials incidents or other situations where special protective equipment is required, the RIT should be ready with the same level of
protective clothing and equipment as the entry team requires. Some departments
have established Firefighter Assist and Search Teams (F.A.S.T.) to accomplish
rapid intervention tasks.

Two In, Two Out

IDLH
The maximum
airborne concentration
that an individual
could escape and not
suffer any adverse
effects.

OSHA has created a regulation, commonly referred to as Two In, Two Out.
The regulation specifies that whenever personnel are operating in atmospheres
that require SCBA, expecially atmospheres that are described as immediately
dangerous to life and health (IDLH), the procedure of Two In, Two Out must be
used. OSHA recognizes that conditions present during an advanced interior
structural fire create an IDLH atmosphere. OSHA states that this applies to fire
scenes that have gone beyond the ignition stage, in other words, fires in the
growth, fully developed or decay stages.
In some departments one, two, or three personnel will be first at scene. If
they wish to initiate interior fire attack when an IDLH atmosphere is present or
likely to be present, engine company personnel must alter the IDLH atmosphere
with the following exception:
If, upon arrival at the scene, firefighters find an imminent life-threatening situation
where immediate action may prevent the loss of life or serious injury, such action
shall be permitted with less than four firefighters on the scene, when actions are
based on appropriate concepts of risk assessment and management. Such action is
intended to apply only to those rare and extraordinary circumstances when, in the
firefighters professional judgment, the specific instance requires immediate action to
prevent the loss of life or serious injury and four firefighters have not yet arrived on
the fireground.

In essence, an interior attack can be made if there is a high probability of effecting


a rescue or stopping the fire from threatening persons in imminent danger.

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Personnel operating in hazardous areas at emergency incidents shall operate


in teams of two or more, the buddy system. Team members operating in hazardous areas are required to be in communication with each other through visual
or voice contact at all times. Radios or other means of electronic contact shall not
be substituted for direct visual or voice contact between members of an individual team in the hazardous area. Team members shall remain in close proximity to
each other to provide assistance in case of emergency. Backup team members will
monitor the status of the entry team by maintaining visual and/or voice contact.
Of the four personnel at scene when operating in IDLH or potential IDLH
atmospheres, the entry team must consist of two personnel. One of the two personnel who remain outside may be engaged in other activities, as long as this
does not jeopardize firefighter safety and the individuals ability to participate in
any rescue operation.1

STRUCTURE FIREFIGHTING
One of the basic responsibilities of any fire department is fighting structure fires
(Figure 14-2). The equipment in the form of pumpers, hose, and nozzles is
designed with this primarily in mind. Previously this was the type of emergency
work that firefighters performed the most. This is no longer true, with the move of
the fire department into medical aid delivery, but it is still one of the most

Figure 14-2
Structural firefighting with Class
A foam. (Courtesy
of Mike Alforque.)

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primary search
the first search for
victims conducted at
an emergency scene

Figure 14-3 Roof


ventilation.

419

important jobs performed. Most departments spend the bulk of their time and
training budget preparing for this one aspect of emergency service. A fire department that can keep its structure losses to a minimum is performing an important
part of its function very well. Every once in a while there is bound to be a fire that
exceeds the control capabilities of the fire department and its resources. When
this happens, the public is sure to take a close look at the fire department and its
budget and ask if the money is being used effectively.
Firefighting operations at structure fires take one of two modes, offensive or
defensive. In the offensive mode, firefighters enter the burning structure and
attack the seat of the fire. In the defensive mode, the water is applied through
windows or into other openings to control the fire. In some cases the initial
attack is made through a window to darken down the fire and then firefighters
enter and complete the extinguishment. If firefighters are able to enter the structure upon arrival, a primary search is made for victims.
A firefighting operation at a structure must be a coordinated attack. The first
arriving unit sizes up the fire and decides which methods will be the most effective in bringing the fire under control. Hose lines are pulled and charged, the
power is cut off at the meter, ventilation is performed, and the firefighters attack
the fire (Figure 14-3). If ventilation is performed before the lines are ready, the

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Chapter 14

Note
A firefighting
operation at a
structure must be a
coordinated attack.

Safety

A SCBA will protect you from inhaling


chemicals but will not
protect you from skin
contact.

contaminated
to become coated
with a harmful
substance

decontaminate
to remove a harmful
substance

Figure 14-4
Household
chemicals.

Emergency Operations

fire will intensify and may exceed the ability of the personnel at the scene to control it. Depending on the size and complexity of the fire, any number of operations are required to bring it under control. If the fire is already through the roof,
ventilation may be unnecessary.
When firefighters respond to structure fires, several questions are important,
no matter whether the structure is in a dumpster, shed, home, or warehouse. One
of these questions is, what are the contents? In the past, people were not as likely
to have an assortment of household chemicals stored and firefighting was somewhat safer (Figure 14-4). To limit exposure to these items, firefighters have better
protective equipment. Now that the protective equipment has gotten better, firefighters sometimes think that they are invincible, which is certainly not the case.
A SCBA will protect you from inhaling chemicals but will not protect you from
skin contact. In a hot structure firefighting operation, you will be sweating profusely and all of your pores will be open. If a chemical that can harm you through
skin contact comes into contact with an unprotected area, you will suffer an exposure. Many of these chemicals do not show immediate effects. After repeated
exposures over a 30-year career, you may find yourself suffering from cancer.
Leather gloves and boots will protect you from some hazards and not from
others. They are made of animal skin, which like your own, is porous. If your
gloves or boots become contaminated with a harmful chemical they cannot be
decontaminated. Every time you wear them and start to sweat you are going to
be exposed again. If you get a chemical on your turnout gear or uniform and take
them home for washing, you can expose your whole family. A dose of a harmful
chemical that will not show any ill effect on you may be lethal to small children.
Other building contents can pose a hazard. In a kitchen fire, canned goods
can explode and splatter you with the boiling contents. During gasoline shortages,

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Safety

One of the
worst interior structural hazards is stairs.

Figure 14-5
Structure collapse.
(Courtesy of Edwina
Davis.)

421

people were known to store trash cans full of gasoline in their homes. Some room
contents, in the form of furniture, pose a hazard. Polyurethane foam can burn as
hot and produce as much smoke as gasoline. Fires have occurred where the use of
flammable liquids was suspected, because of heavy black smoke. After extinguishment, it was determined that the smoke was caused by burning foam, not gasoline.
In areas where hunting is popular, many homes have a supply of ammunition on
hand. The list of hazards in a common structure fire can go on almost indefinitely.
Interior structural components pose dangers as well. Suspended ceilings
have crashed down and trapped firefighters in their framing. A ceiling fan is heavy
enough to do some damage to you if you are hit. Tall book cases and high piled
stock can be knocked down by hose streams and land on firefighters. Even getting
the hooks on the front of your turnout coat caught on a set of springs from a burned
out bed could prevent you from escaping an advancing fire. One of the worst interior structural hazards is stairs. Their use may present no problem at the beginning
of the fire, but when the situation deteriorates, they can act as a chimney for smoke
and flame and cut off your escape, trapping you above the fire. In heavy smoke and
darkness, it is easy to fall down the stairs if you are not paying attention to where
you are going. At other times the fire can weaken the stairs that you went up. As
you come back down, they collapse, dropping you into a raging inferno. Curtains
hanging over a window that you are using as an emergency escape route can become wrapped around you and explode into flame in a flashover situation.
Structural collapse is one of the firefighters worst nightmares (Figure 14-5).
A floor or roof above you can collapse and land on you, pinning you down until

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parapet wall
a wall that extends
above the roof line

Safety

Safety

As you walk
around a burning
structure, do not walk
upright in front of
windows.

Not all of the


hazards at a structure
fire are on the inside.

Figure 14-6 Roof


loads on a
supermarket.

Emergency Operations

you run out of air or are burned to death. The floor or roof you are standing on
can fail, dropping you into the fire below. Parapet walls and overhangs have a
history of falling onto firefighters. Even whole walls have fallen, burying
firefighters and equipment in the rubble.
As you walk around a burning structure, do not walk upright in front of windows. If you happen to be in front of a window at the time the fire back drafts,
you will get burned. Hose lines inside the structure are quite capable of blowing
the glass out of a window and cutting you badly. The old story about walking
under ladders being bad luck is especially true in firefighting. If someone is
above you breaking glass or drops an axe, you are likely to get hit.
A type of structure fire that is becoming more common is the clandestine
drug lab that has caught fire. The people cooking the drugs usually set up the
operation, start the process, then leave for the period of time it takes to run. In any
event, they are not going to be standing out front to warn you about the dangers
of what is going on inside when you arrive.
Not all of the hazards at a structure fire are on the inside. Heavy roof loads
in the form of air conditioning units and other equipment have a tendency to
come crashing through when the structure is weakened by fire (Figure 14-6).
Chimneys pose the same hazard. A television antenna can act as a spear if it comes
through the roof and pins you to the floor.
What can you do to protect yourself? Always wear your full PPE and keep
your eyes and ears open for anything out of the ordinary. A fire that resists normal extinguishment methods may mean that there is some type of unusual fuel
involved. Flame and smoke colors are an indicator. Normal structure fires burn
with a reddish orange to yellow flame and black smoke. If the flames are dark

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Safety

Safety

Leave yourself a
second way out.

Do not
freelance.

423

orange, blue, green, or some other strange color, there is something going on you
should be extra careful of. If the smoke is reddish or other unusual color, it is an
indicator that something is out of the ordinary.
Be suspicious. If you arrive at a structure and the windows are blown out or
the doors are lying on the ground and appear to have been blown off, there is
something unusual going on. If you are on your way to the fire and you see someone running down the street away from the fire with a gas can in his hand, that
is a definite clue.
Leave yourself a second way out. Before entering a structure try to locate an
alternate opening. Make sure there is another way out if the fire gets out of control and cuts off the path through which you entered. When working on a roof,
above a fire, there should always be enough ladders placed for all of the personnel to make a quick escape. Never fewer than two ladders should be placed. If
firefighters are going upstairs, ladders should be placed at windows so they can
escape without using the stairs. Jumping to the ground from a second or third
floor window or from the roof is not good practice and may very well end your
career, if not your life.
Do not freelance. Stay with your company and your officer. Your officer has
much more firefighting experience than you do and is more likely to recognize a
bad situation developing before you do. By staying together, firefighters can help
each other out. If one should become trapped under some rubble or drop a leg
through the floor or roof, the others can lend a hand. At the least they can direct
the hose stream while you disentangle yourself. Someone should always know
where you have gone. If you are missing, it is better that someone recognizes that
fact right away and not after they return to the station.
High-rise firefighting presents a whole list of additional hazards to the
structural firefighter. Some have gone as far as to call them elevated crematoriums. The floor areas of high-rises are often rented to different companies. Each
individual floor can have its own unique layout according to the tenants wishes.
This makes it easy to become disoriented. A practice that sometimes works is to
take a quick tour of the floor below the fire floor to get an idea of the layout before
entering the fire floor. The interior walls on each floor are often nothing more
than partitions ending at the suspended ceiling. Above the ceiling the fire can
run freely across the hidden attic space above your head. You cannot see the fire
in this space and it may come out between you and your escape route.
The best way to access a high-rise fire is up the stairways. When the fire is
on the 110th floor, this will take a long time to accomplish and after you carry
your gear to the fire floor, you may be too fatigued to be of much good. At this
point the elevators sound like a good option. The trouble is if they open onto the
fire floor you can not be sure what you will be confronted with when the door
opens. The fire department hose connections are in the stairwells. You may not be
able to make it from the elevator lobby to the stairwell because of fire and heat. It
is easy to get confused in heavy smoke. When you cannot make it from the elevator to the hose connection, you have no water with which to attack the fire to try

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sky lobby
a lobby on a high floor
level in a high-rise
building. Elevators
leave from this area to
service the upper
floors.

Figure 14-7 Fire


department elevator
control. (Courtesy
of Otis Corp.)

Chapter 14

Emergency Operations

to improve your situation. There are alternatives available. One is to take the
elevator to the floor below the fire and use the stairs from there. This requires
being absolutely sure which floor the fire is on. The elevators can be used if they
are the type that open at a sky lobby below the fire. This way you will not end up
with the door opening onto an inferno. There are systems available on some
elevators that allow firefighters to override their automatic functions. If this
system is installed and the firefighters are familiar with how it works, it is another
option (Figure 14-7).
In high-rise fire situations one of the exterior hazards is falling glass
(Figure 14-8). Most of todays high-rise buildings have glass exteriors. When
there is a fire these glass panels have a tendency to fall out, get knocked out by
occupants or by firefighters affecting ventilation. A large piece of glass falling
from far above the street is capable of severing hose lines and doing severe damage to firefighters. Pieces of glass have the ability to sail quite far as they fall. No
one should be standing out in the open within 200 feet of the fire building if
possible. When underground access can be found to the structure, that is often
the best way to enter.

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Emergency Operations

425

Figure 14-8 Fire in


high-rise building.
(Courtesy Gene
Blevins.)

Note
One of the first things
done is to detail
someone to cut off
the power to the
structure.

A hazard almost always present in structure fires is electricity. One of the


first things done is to detail someone to cut off the power to the structure. You
should never try to pull the electrical meter. It can explode in your face, showering you with glass. Even though someone has cut the switch or main breaker to
the structure, it is no guarantee that the power is off. If the occupants are stealing
electricity, they may have wired around the meter. When walking through a darkened area, it is best to put your arms up with your palms toward you. This prevents you from reflexively grabbing an energized electrical wire if you contact one.
Great care must be taken in watching where apparatus is parked as overhead
wires to burning structures often come disconnected and can fall across the
apparatus. If this happens, jump clear and do not touch the apparatus. A television news technician was killed when he raised the mast on the news van into
electrical wires. He had exited the vehicle safely, but when the vehicle started to
burn, he tried to get to the fire extinguisher mounted inside and was electrocuted

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426

arcing
spark created when
electrical contact is
made

Note
One of the cardinal
rules of raising
ladders of any type is
to look up first.

Chapter 14

Emergency Operations

in the process. Any time you see a wire, consider it a live wire. Just because they
are not arcing and jumping does not mean that they are deactivated. Wires can
also burn off and fall across metal fences, such as chain link, energizing them.
One of the cardinal rules of raising ladders of any type is to look up first.
Make sure that you are not raising your ladder into electrical wires. An
aluminum ladder will conduct electricity better than a wooden one, but they can
both kill you in the right situation. Your rubber boots contain carbon and are not
electrical insulators. Pike poles are not to be used for moving electrical wires.
They may be resistive when new, but as they get older and build up carbon on
the handles, their resistance is lowered. Do not attempt to cut wires with bolt
cutters. The only people fully trained and who carry the required equipment
to deal with electrical wires and equipment are the people from the power
company.
A hazard most people do not stop to consider at structure fires is pets. It can
be very exciting to open a door or gate and see a large pit bull launching itself at you.
Some people keep exotic pets, such as rattlesnakes, in their homes. Livestock can
also pose a hazard to firefighters in certain situations. Entering a fenced area to
extinguish a grass fire and meeting up with an enraged bull is a bad position to be
in. In some situations your PPE may help to prevent injury. Your best defense is
always a cautious approach.

FIRE DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS AT SPRINKLERED OCCUPANCIES


The three principle causes of unsatisfactory sprinkler performance include a
closed valve in the water supply line, delivery of inadequate water supply to the
system, and occupancy changes that render the installed sprinkler system
unsuitable. These can be prevented through effective preincident planning and
the implementation of testing and maintenance programs.
Departments should establish Standard Operating Procedures for operations
at sprinklered or standpiped occupancies. One of the first actions to be taken is to
ensure the supply to the system is boosted through the use of a pumper attached
to the fire department connection. All of the systems valves should be checked
to ensure that they are in the fully open position, unless marked closed for
maintenance. This is not the case for residential systems. They are only designed
to handle normal pressures provided by the water main system. Once flow from
the system is ensured, hose lines can be advanced to the seat of the fire. Do not turn
off the system to enhance visibility before the fire is confirmed to be under control.
When a part of the system must be turned off for overhaul or salvage operations,
try to turn off only the portion of the system in the affected area. The system should
be placed back into service immediately before leaving the scene. If the system
cannot be placed back into service, the property owner or representative should be
notified.

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Emergency Operations

dry chemical
extinguisher
fire extinguisher using
a chemically active
powder

427

After any fire-caused sprinkler system activation, an investigation as to cause


should be conducted. Also include system effectiveness in the reporting. A full list
of the components of this type of investigation are contained in NFPA Standard 13E
Properties Protected by Automatic Sprinkler Systems.

PCB oil
oil containing
polychlorinated
biphenyl, a compound
that is considered to
cause cancer

Note
As a general rule
firefighters should
not enter or
extinguish fires in
electrical installations
unless guided by
electric company
employees.

Figure 14-9
Electrical
equipment fire.

ELECTRICAL INSTALLATIONS
An area that requires careful preplanning and consideration is electrical substations and vaults (Figure 14-9). It is a hazard from a safety standpoint due to the
high potential for getting electrocuted. It is also possible to cause much more
damage than the fire will by the indiscriminate use of water or dry chemical
extinguishers. A more common fire is the power pole fire. Water can conduct
electricity. When extinguishing electrical equipment, it is better to use a fog pattern or short bursts of water to accomplish the task. This lessens the chances of
getting shocked. Transformers used to contain PCB oil, which is considered to be
carcinogenic. Power companies have, for the most part, phased this oil out. There
may still be some out there and you should proceed with great caution around
electrical equipment.
As a general rule, firefighters should not enter or extinguish fires in electrical
installations unless guided by electric company employees. These personnel are
trained and know where it is safe to operate and which firefighting technique

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Emergency Operations

should be applied. They know which switches to throw to shut down the power.
Remember from Chapter 4 that a class C fire reverts to class A, B, D or K once the
power is shut down.

WILDLAND FIREFIGHTING

scratch line
a quickly created
wildland fire control
line, constructed
using hand tools

class A foam
foam designed for use
on ordinary
combustible materials

Figure 14-10
Wildland
firefighting with
minipumper.
(Courtesy Ed
Needham.)

In wildland firefighting operations, the basic methods of extinguishment are to


apply water or fire retardant to the fire edge or to create a fire break or control line
around the perimeter (Figure 14-10). This is done with a variety of methods. In
grasslands, pumpers can be used to make a direct attack on the fire edge. Crews
using hand tools can also create a scratch line that breaks the fuels continuity and
stops the fire spread. Dozers are used in the same manner. In heavier fuels, due to
radiated heat and flame lengths, a direct attack is not possible. In these fuels, crews
get well ahead of the fire and make an indirect attack, creating fire breaks with
hand crews and dozers. Natural barriers, like lakes and roads, are also used as part
of the fire break. When class A foam is available, it can be used to protect exposures by applying it as a wetting agent to raise the surface fuel moisture to where
it will not burn.
A method often used to create a safe, black line is to backfire. The backfire
removes the fuel between the control line and the head of the advancing fire.

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Emergency Operations

flank
the sides of an
advancing
wildland fire

unburned island
area of unburned fuel
within a fire perimeter

Note
These firefighting
methods should never
be attempted by
untrained personnel.

Safety

The safety rules


developed for wildland
firefighting can be
applied to all types of
fire fighting.

Figure 14-11
Backfiring
operation.

429

The backfire burns back toward the main fire and away from the control line
(Figure 14-11). This allows a relatively narrow control line to be used. The line is
effectively widened by the removal of the fuel between the advancing fire and the
control line. When burning is done to remove fuel along the flanks or to remove
unburned islands left in the fire perimeter, it is called firing out. These firefighting methods should never be attempted by untrained personnel. When performed
improperly, they can cause the fire to jump control lines.
The safety rules developed for wildland firefighting can be applied to all
types of firefighting. The rules cover the main points that should be observed in
any fire situation. The basic safety rules of operating at a wildland fire are the
Ten Standard Firefighting Orders and the 18 Situations That Shout Watch Out.
They are listed here.2
The Ten Standard Firefighting Orders:
Fight fire aggressively, but provide for safety first.
Initiate all action based on current and expected fire behavior.
Recognize current weather conditions and obtain forecasts.
Ensure instructions are given and understood.
Obtain current information on fire status.
Remain in communication with crew members, your supervisor, and
adjoining forces.

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Emergency Operations

Determine safety zones and escape routes.


Establish lookouts in potentially hazardous situations.
Retain control of yourself and your crew at all times.
Stay alert, keep calm, think clearly, and act decisively.
18 Situations That Shout Watch Out
1. The fire is not scouted and sized up.
2. You are in country not seen in daylight.
3. Safety zones and escape routes are not identified.
4. You are unfamiliar with the weather and local factors influencing
fire behavior.
5. You are uninformed on strategy, tactics, and hazards.
6. Instructions and assignments are not clear.
7. No communications link with crew members/supervisor.
8. Constructing line without safe anchor point.
9. Constructing fire line downhill with fire below.
10. Attempting frontal assault on fire.
11. Unburned fuel between you and the fire.
12. Cannot see main fire, not in contact with anyone who can.
13. On a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below.
14. Weather is getting hotter and drier.
15. Wind increases and/or changes direction.
16. Getting frequent spot fires across the line.
17. Terrain and fuels make escape to safety zones difficult.
18. You feel like taking a nap near the fire line.

Note
All of these listed
orders and situations
were developed
because someone was
seriously injured or
killed.

All of these listed orders and situations were developed because someone
was seriously injured or killed. In recent incidents where wildland firefighters
were injured or killed, violations of these orders and situations were found to be
contributing factors. The four most common causative factors involved in tragedy
and near-miss wildland fires are (1) they usually happen on small fires or deceptively quiet sectors of large fires; (2) they happen in light fuels, such as grass or
brush; (3) there is an unexpected shift in the wind direction or speed; and (4) when
fires run up hill.
Because it is very hard to memorize the Ten Standard Firefighting Orders
and all of the 18 Situations That Shout Watch Out two, more condensed, safety
messages have been adopted. They cannot totally take the place of those
described previously, but serve as a general reminder.

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hazard trees
trees that have
burned out at the
base or are liable to
drop large limbs

safety zone
area set up for
gathering of
personnel should the
incident escalate to
the point that they are
endangered

Note
Their main focus is
that you keep
informed on what is
happening and remain
aware of how you are
going to seek safe
refuge.

431

The first of these messages is the LCES.3


LOOKOUTS should always be posted to keep an eye on the fire and the
weather. These personnel are not to become involved in actual firefighting. Their
job is to keep an eye on the fire and let the crew know if the fire starts to increase
in intensity or make a run at the crews position. In areas where hazard trees are
a problem, this may require one person watching for every two working.
COMMUNICATIONS must be maintained between the lookouts and the
crews working, between the crews and their leader, between the leader and the
adjoining crews, and between the crew leaders and the command personnel.
ESCAPE ROUTES should always be planned and communicated to all of
the crew members in case of a change in fire behavior. As in other types of
firefighting, two escape routes are better than one, in case one gets cut off.
SAFETY ZONES should be placed as often as deemed necessary. They
must be large enough to accommodate all of the crews in the area in case of a
burn over. The safety zones need to be spaced closely enough that the crew has
time to travel to them if the fire dictates that they must seek refuge. They must be
clearly indicated and accessible.
The second of the safety messages, look up, look down, look around is as
follows.4
LOOK UP before you start to work, and every so often while working, get
your eyes off the ground and look up. See what the wind and smoke are doing.
Is the fire moving toward you or away from you? Are there aircraft starting to
work overhead, close enough to be a danger to you? Look uphill from your location. Is there heavy equipment operating further up the hill that may roll rocks
or logs down on top of your position?
LOOK DOWN, watch your footing. At night it is easy to become blinded
from the light of the fire and walk into holes or fall from drop offs. Logs and pipes
in tall grass can easily trip you. When carrying a razor sharp Pulaski, this could
be disastrous. The moon can illuminate the area in which you are working quite
well. The problem is that moonlight does not provide you with good depth perception. It is plenty light enough to see where you are going, but easy to walk right
off into a ditch. Look downhill and be sure that the fire has not hooked around or
been ignited by rolling material below your position.
LOOK AROUND, be aware of what is going on around you. You may be
working too close to someone operating a chain saw or swinging a chopping tool.
Be aware of what the fire is doing. Keep track of the escape routes and safety
zones. Do not become separated from your crew.
These safety messages can be applied to every type of firefighting, not just
wildland. Their main focus is that you keep informed on what is happening and
remain aware of how you are going to seek safe refuge. Firefighters tend to fall
victim to the candle and moth syndrome and are drawn in to seeing only the fire
and nothing else. Do not become so intent on extinguishing the fire that you do
not consider where it is going and what damage it has caused to trees and structures, either of which may fall on you if you are not careful.

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WILDLAND URBAN INTERFACE/INTERMIX FIREFIGHTING


Wildland urban interface firefighting is becoming more common. More and more
people have escaped the cities by building their homes in the foothills and
mountainous areas. This has given rise to the situation where the firefighters cannot afford to just back off a couple of ridges, create a fire break, and wait for the
fire to get there. Now firefighters must place themselves and their equipment in
the path of the advancing fire (Figure 14-12). In this type of firefighting, the main
objective is to protect as many structures as possible. This is primarily done by
placing a pumper at each structure. It would seem that a pumper with a 1,000gallon-a-minute pump and 500 gallons of water could take on most any fire. This
is untrue and is proved on a regular basis, with the result being injured firefighters and a destroyed pumper. In areas of dry brush and trees, flame lengths can
easily exceed 50 feet. We do not have the capability to stop this type of fire in a
direct attack, frontal assault.
This firefighting method is not meant to be a suicide mission. There are
several things to consider when assessing your ability to protect a structure and
provide for your own safety. These are listed here as TRIAGE.
Take time to evaluate water needs versus availability.
Recon safety zones and escape routes.

Figure 14-12
Structure protection
strike team engines
in staging area.
(Courtesy of Emil
Alvarado.)

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Emergency Operations

Is the structure defendable based on construction type, topography, and


anticipated fire behavior?
Are flammable vegetation and debris cleared within a reasonable distance?
Give a fair evaluation of the values at stake versus resources available and
do not waste time on the losers.
Evaluate the safety risk to the crew and the equipment.
When the decision is made to attempt to save the structure from the advancing fire, the following safety considerations should be followed. The acronym for
these is PROTECTION.
Park engines backed in so a rapid exit can be made if necessary.
Remember to maintain communication with your crew and adjoining
resources.
On occasions when you are overrun by fire, use apparatus or structures as
a refuge.
Tank water should not get below 50 gallons in case it is needed for crew
protection.
Engines should keep headlights on, windows closed, and outside speakers turned up.
Coil a charged 11 2-inch hose line at the engine for protection of crew and
equipment.
Try not to lay hose longer than 150 feet from your engine.
It is important to keep apparatus mobile for maximum effectiveness.
Only use water as needed and refrain from wetting ahead of the fire.
Never sacrifice crew safety to save property.
As you can see, from the safety messages in the foregoing list, great emphasis
is placed on maintaining communications. Without good communications among
and between resource groups, a coordinated attack cannot be implemented. As a
factor directly relating to safety, communications are important to keep everyone
informed as to what the incident is doing and what action to take when things go
wrong.

OIL FIREFIGHTING
In areas with oil production or refining, oil firefighting is a skill that needs to be
developed (Figure 14-13). The primary objectives in oil firefighting are to extinguish the fire and control the source of any leaks. Fire props at oil firefighting
schools are designed so that firefighters advance hose lines, toward the burning
product and push it away from them. Once at the burning flange or pipe, the valve

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Emergency Operations

Figure 14-13 Oil firefighting operations.

Safety

Firefighters
should be accompanied
by refinery employees
any time they enter the
refinery for fire fighting purposes.

is closed to shut off the flow. In plumbing fires, this is sometimes the technique
used to control fires. Often a refinery employee can shut down the leak from a location remote from the fire and the fire departments job is to confine the fire and
protect exposures until the fuel remaining in the pipe burns itself out.5
In refinery fires, many different products can be encountered. All of them
have different burning characteristics. On the receiving side, the product is crude
oil. It is very viscous; it is then refined into lighter products like diesel fuel and
gasoline. The lightest product is hydrogen gas. It burns so cleanly that the flame is
often invisible. It would be possible for a firefighter to walk into the jet of burning
gas without seeing it. You should project a hose stream out in front or even use a
regular broom, held out in front of you to search out the flame. Generally, firefighters should be accompanied by refinery employees any time they enter the
refinery for firefighting purposes. It is dangerous to shut off valves or attempt other
mitigation efforts without the proper guidance and expertise.
When the fire occurs in a storage tank, different methods are used. In storage tank fires only the surface is burning. This may appear rather easy to control
because the surface area is contained by the walls of the tank. The problem is
that just pouring water into the tank at a high rate will not extinguish the fire.
Much of the water will be turned to steam by the heat of the fire and oil floats on
water, leading to three main problems in this type of firefighting:6
Boil over occurs when water is trapped under the surface of the oil. These
layers of water are called lenses, due to their shape. As the oil surface
burns, a heat wave travels downward through the oil at a rate of 12 to

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Emergency Operations

48 inches per hour.7 The temperature of the heat wave is higher than the
boiling point of the trapped water. When this heat wave hits a lens of
water, it turns the water to steam. The water, when turned to vapor,
expands at a rate of approximately 1,700 to 1. The expansion of the water
to steam causes the oil to erupt upward and often causes an amount of oil
to be ejected from the tank. If you were close to the wall of the tank, you
could be in the path of the falling, burning, or at least extremely hot, oil.
Slop over occurs when fire streams are applied to the burning liquid surface at such an angle that hot and or burning oil is forced over the edge
of the tank. The oil then flows down the side of the tank and you are now
confronted with a fire on the ground as well as the one in the tank.
Froth over occurs when fire streams are directed at an angle that they
plunge under the surface of the burning oil. This would be most likely to
occur if the water were applied from elevated stream devices such as ladder trucks. As the water enters the surface, it is turned to steam, much
like the boil over, and the surface is turned to a burning oil froth. This
froth can easily overflow the walls of the tank and spread as a ground fire.
cone roof
a style of tank
construction with a
vapor space over the
product. The lid is
connected to the tank
with a weak seam that
will rupture before the
tank wall seams

subsurface foam
injection
plumbing installed on
a tank to allow for the
introduction of foam
under the surface of
the contained liquid

water curtain
a screen of water set
up to protect
exposures

In the older style tanks, with a cone roof (Figure 14-14) and vapor space
above the contents, subsurface foam injection plumbing is often provided. The
foam generating equipment is hooked to a manifold (Figure 14-15) on the tank
and foam is pumped in until the fire is extinguished. Other tanks can have a system of piping that extends up the outside of the tank. The foam-generating equipment is then attached to this plumbing and the foam flows onto the surface of the
product, extinguishing the fire. When neither of these is provided, the foam must
be applied by aerial apparatus or from the ground through large bore nozzles that
can project a stream over the wall of the tank. Throwing a ladder on the outside
of the tank to gain access to the surface is extremely dangerous and definitely not
recommended. If other tanks are endangered by the radiated heat of the fire, they
may be cooled with water spray. The water must be applied directly on the tank
shell. Setting up a water curtain to absorb radiated heat in the air is ineffective.
Most modern storage tanks are of the floating roof type. The roof floats
directly on the product, which reduces the vapor space inside the tank. The most
common fire is in the seal area between the floating lid (Figure 14-16) and the
tank shell. When large amounts of water are pumped onto the lid, it can cause it to
sink, increasing the burning surface area greatly. The two methods most commonly
used on a seal fire are attack lines using foam or dry chemical extinguishers. If
the tank is equipped with a plumbing system for foam application, it should be
designed with a dam to keep the foam applied over the area of the seal.

Gasoline Spills
The mass release of gasoline, or any other flammable liquid, requires that the
vapors be controlled. Foam is the agent of choice for this operation. When foam is
properly applied, it can seal the liquid surface so that the flammable vapors are

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436

Figure 14-14 Cone


roof tanks with
liquefied petroleum
gas (LPG) tanks in
foreground.

Figure 14-15 Foam


manifold on oil
tank.

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Emergency Operations

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437

Figure 14-16
Floating roof tanks.

Safety

Any time foam


is used on a spill,
firefighters should not
enter the area of the
spill.

contained and ignition of the vapors is prevented. When foam is used, it must be
periodically reapplied as it will break down after a time and become ineffective in
controlling the vapors.
Any time foam is used on a spill, firefighters should not enter the area of the
spill. Walking through the foam blanket breaks the seal and releases the flammable vapors. If they find an ignition source, you will be surrounded by flames. In
this situation, the natural reaction is to run. This just disrupts the foam blanket
further and makes the situation worse. If you must walk through the foam, shuffle your feet, do not pick them up as you walk. This helps prevent breaking the
foam blanket.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)


A commonly used by-product of oil refining is LPG. The storage containers for
these products, including butane and propane, are made of a steel shell that is
welded together. They are easily recognizable by their hemispherical ends. They
may be of many different sizes and either mounted on the ground, carried on trains,
or mounted on trucks and trailers in the larger sizes. Some other places these containers are encountered are tanks on backyard barbecues, fork lifts, travel trailers,
and motor homes. The smaller versions are sometimes encountered in garage fires.

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working pressure
the pounds per
square inch of
pressure that a tank is
designed to contain

relief valve
device used to release
unwanted pressure

burst pressure
the pounds per
square of inch of
pressure at which a
container will fail

Figure 14-17 Gas


cylinders; the one
on left ruptured in
fire.

Chapter 14

Emergency Operations

The tanks are built to withstand high pressures, above that of the working
pressure of the tank. They are equipped with a relief valve on the top that should
keep them from ever reaching the tanks burst pressure. This works well under
normal conditions. The problem is that not all conditions remain normal. In earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods the tanks become dislodged from their mountings.
In vehicle accidents, with truck- or train-mounted tanks, the tank can end up in
any position. It may have its structural integrity compromised from the tank skidding along the ground or striking another solid object. In accident situations the
relief valve may end up on the bottom because the tank is upside down.
When one of these containers is involved in a fire, the recommendation is
that large volumes of water be applied at each point of flame contact. The volume is determined by the size of fire and number of containers involved.8 When
the fire is burning from the relief valve on top of the tank, there may not be any
direct flame contact, but there will be a problem caused by the radiated heat. As
the container is heated, the rate of gas release increases. This only compounds
the problem as the container is then heated at a faster rate. Steel starts to weaken
as it is heated.9 When the pressure in the container increases to the point where
it overcomes the strength of the weakened steel, the container shell will separate,
releasing the contents (Figure 14-17).

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Safety

Container
pieces have been
known to fly as far as
one-half mile from the
explosion site.

439

When a release of the contents happens, it is called a Boiling Liquid


Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEVE). Sometimes referred to as a Blast Leveling
Everything Very Effectively. When a flammable gas is involved, the release creates a vapor cloud that ignites from the fire causing the rupture. The resultant
cloud of flaming material and heat and shock waves have tremendous destructive potential. Anyone in the immediate area has very little chance of survival.
When fighting fires involving containers with a flammable BLEVE potential,
water should be applied with remotely supplied master stream appliances. Many
facilities are set up with large nozzles just for this purpose. On the roadway these
are not going to be readily available. When personnel set up appliances, they
should get them set up and get out of the area as quickly as possible. Container
pieces have been known to fly as far as one-half mile from the explosion site.10
A BLEVE can also occur in a nonflammable liquid. Any container that has
liquid contents and will withstand a pressure rise inside before it bursts can
BLEVE. When a can of cream corn explodes in a kitchen fire, the same forces are
at work. The results are just not as spectacular. An example of this type of
explosion on a small scale is to make popcorn. As the water inside the kernel is
heated to the burst pressure of the container, the kernel pops open.
Not all flammable gas releases are caused by or result in fires. LPG can be
released due to mechanical failure of plumbing or human error. The vapor density is heavier than that of air and the LPG vapors will tend to pool in low areas.
The course of action in these situations is to control ignition sources and disperse
the vapors with water fog.

Natural Gas
A common flammable gas, natural gas, when released into the open, poses little
hazard as it is lighter than air and will disperse itself. It has the potential for
collecting in structures when leaks occur in interior-mounted gas meters and
plumbing. There have been numerous instances where digging work is being
done with either backhoe tractors or shovels and gas lines were cut. The resultant leakage of gas should be handled by the gas company. The danger of static
electricity causing ignition should not be ignored and an attack line should be
pulled and charged just in case. When a backhoe or other equipment ruptures
the line, it should be shut down immediately and not restarted until the source
of the gas is turned off and any remaining gas is dispersed.
A very real hazard to firefighters is the person bent on suicide who releases
natural gas or LPG into a structure. If the neighbors smell the gas and the fire
department responds before the person has expired, they may decide to take you
with them by igniting the gas as you approach. Any gas smell call should be treated
as a true emergency with life-threatening potential. The worst scenario for
firefighters is the cloud of flammable gas that is not yet ignited. You may find yourself in the cloud without realizing it. If at that time it finds its ignition source, you
are in serious trouble.

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HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INCIDENTS (HAZMAT)


NOTE
If you were to
inventory the garage
in almost any home in
the country you would
find some type of
material that could be
classified as
hazardous.

Safety

The days of
charging in and taking
immediate action at all
incidents are long
gone.

Figure 14-18
Hazardous
materials incident
operations.
(Courtesy of Vetter
Systems.)

Hazmat incidents are becoming more common, partly because of greater awareness
and partly because of increased use of these materials (Figure 14-18). Approximately 2000 new chemical combinations are introduced every year. Those that
have no commercial value are not created in any great quantity, but those with
commercial value are shipped in every mode of transportation and stored at all
kinds of facilities.11 If you were to inventory the garage in almost any home in the
country, you would find some type of material that could be classified as hazardous.
The days of charging in and taking immediate action at all incidents are
long gone. In every situation, you must be alert for the presence of materials that
pose more than the ordinary hazard. This subject was already discussed to some
extent in the portion of this chapter on structure fires. This section deals with
incidents that are recognized as involving hazardous materials either before
arrival or upon arrival.
The federal government has legislated, under the Superfund Amendments
and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986, that all employers and employees
follow the requirements of OSHA 29 CFR Part 1910.20. Part 1910.20 requires
training to at least the first responder level for employees responding to take
action at incidents that involve hazardous materials. Annual refresher training is
also required. This law also requires the establishment of an incident command
system on any incident involving hazardous materials. In states without a statelevel OSHA, Section 126 requires the Environmental Protection Agency to issue
an identical set of regulations to cover state and local government employees.

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Note
When responding to a
hazmat call, the
primary consideration
is to make a
precautionary
approach.

Safety

All approaches
to suspected hazmat
incidents should be
made from upwind,
uphill, and upstream.

perimeter
boundary for
controlled access
(hazmat). The fire
edge (wildland)

441

When responding to a hazmat call, the primary consideration is to make a


precautionary approach. Slow down and think about what you are going to do
before you take action. Regular PPE is not designed to protect you from hazardous
materials. Many chemicals can penetrate your turnout gear and attack you. The
effects may not be immediately evident and may accumulate over many years.
Even SCBA is not enough protection when the chemical involved is a skin
absorption hazard. Leather gloves, as previously mentioned, are no protection
from chemicals. They just soak up the chemical and hold it next to your skin as
you sweat and your pores open up.
All approaches to suspected hazmat incidents should be made from upwind,
uphill, and upstream. This may require a detour from the most direct route in some
situations. The approach should be made with as few personnel as possible. Firefighters should work in pairs. If it only takes two to make the approach and one to
get close enough to read the label, that is all who should make entry. Once at scene,
any apparatus should be parked facing out. An engine can make a much faster
escape from a deteriorating situation with its forward gears than it can in reverse.
The initial responsibility of the fire department is to isolate, identify, and deny
entry. The purpose of this operation is to ensure that persons who have not been
exposed do not become exposed. Perimeters are set up to control the access of
personnel to the scene.12 The innermost perimeter is the exclusionary or hot zone
and only properly equipped and trained personnel should be allowed into this
area. If your department has a hazmat team, this is where they earn their money.
Around this perimeter a secondary zone, called the contamination reduction or
warm zone is set up. Anyone who passes from the hot zone to the warm zone is
to be properly decontaminated. This is often done by trained engine company
personnel. Any nonessential personnel are to stay in the support or cold zone. In
situations with victims, they should be brought out of the hot zone and properly
decontaminated before they are turned over to EMS personnel. The EMS personnel
should not be allowed to enter the hot zone to rescue them (Figure 14-19).
By identifying the material involved, a decision can be made as to the level
of hazard and how it should be handled. The truck driver who says Ive handled
this stuff for years is not a reliable source of hazard information. Reference sources
are available to research the hazards of many, but not all substances. The problem
is that in many incidents there may be two or more chemicals mixed together. This
can create a combination that is not clearly defined. When in doubt, go with the
worst hazard of each of the chemicals involved and act accordingly.
When the material is positively identified, information can be gathered
from the DOT Guidebook, CHEMTREC, the manufacturer, and computer databases. Many chemicals have more than one hazard. Many liquid pesticides are
flammable as well as toxic. The DOT Guidebook tends to describe the hazards of
the materials it lists from a transportation viewpoint. It is not the definitive answer
in some situations. Before any action is taken, at least three sources should be
referenced as to the materials hazards.
When the material has been positively identified and the proper protective
clothing is determined and available, three basic actions are taken. These are

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Emergency Operations

WARM ZONE

HOT ZONE

DECON
CORRIDOR

Figure 14-19 Zones


set up at hazardous
materials incident.

COLD ZONE

ACCESS
CONTROL
POINT

diking, diverting, and controlling. Diking is done to contain the flow of a material from the area of the leak. A dike can be constructed from dirt or other readily
available materials (Figure 14-20). Sawdust is a poor choice as some chemicals
can react with it, compounding the problems you already have. Before diking with
any other material than dry sand or dirt, a reference source should be consulted.
Diverting is done to direct the flow of a hazardous material that cannot be
contained in a dike due to amount or availability of diking materials. It may also
need to be done because approaching the material closely enough to dike it
would pose an unnecessary safety risk. Diverting can consist of covering a storm
drain grate with plastic and a ring of dirt to keep the material out of the sewer.
Often in releases of large amounts of material, diverting is all that the first-in
company can accomplish until more help arrives at scene.
Controlling is done to stop or reduce the flow rate of the leak. If deemed safe, a
leaking 55-gallon drum can be rolled so the hole is above the liquid level. In other situations a plastic bucket can be placed where it will catch a dripping material. Spilled
powder materials can be covered with a piece of plastic sheeting to keep them from
being spread by the wind or draft from passing vehicles. Releases from plumbing can
often be controlled by finding the valve and turning it off. All of these procedures are
fairly simple, commonsense techniques that require no special equipment or training. Many specially designed leak control devices should only be used by trained
personnel. Controlling usually requires a close approach to the source of the leak and
is not advised until the material and its hazards are identified (Figure 14-21).

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Figure 14-20 Diking


spill to contain
spread of material.

Figure 14-21
Controlling spill
source with
inflatable patch.
(Courtesy of Vetter
Systems.)

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Once the incident is under control and the source of the leak is stopped, the
cleanup phase begins. Many fire departments do not do cleanup: This is left to
private contractors that specialize in this type of operation. Cleanup often requires
specialized equipment and permits for storage and transportation. The health
department usually determines how clean the area needs to be and has the final
say on how clean is clean.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION


As we have seen from the attacks on the Murrah Federal Building (Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma, 1995), the Pentagon (Arlington County, Virginia, 2001), and the
World Trade Center (New York, New York, 2001), and in other parts of the world,
acts of terrorism are a very real threat. As with other incidents, firefighters are
often the first responders. In the World Trade Center incident alone 343 firefighters lost their lives.
The purpose of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attacks is to take
human lives. These attacks may be chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear,
and/or explosive (CBRNE) in nature.
Some of the conditions found in a terrorist (CBRNE) incident, but not at a
hazardous materials incident, are
Crime scene. Requires you to preserve as much evidence as possible.
Major interaction with local, state, and federal agencies, such as the
Federal Bureau of Investgation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and
Firearms (BATF), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Scene communication overload. Radio traffic will be intense and the
cellular phone systems may become overloaded with citizens, responders, and the news media.
Chaos. People will be trying to escape the area and the number of
responding agencies will be many more than for an ordinary hazmat,
therefore an effective incident command structure must be implemented
early on in the incident.
Overwhelming of resources. The number of victims and destruction/
contamination of the area may rapidly overwhelm the first responders
ability to handle, or even assess, the scope of the incident.
Secondary devices designed to kill responders. A secondary device may
be a bomb planted to go off after emergency personnel have arrived at the
scene of a bombing or other attack.
Preincident indicators. There may be a threat phoned or mailed or an
agency, such as the FBI, may be aware of a threat prior to the incident.
Deliberate attack. Terrorist attacks are designed to cause as many casualties as possible and are done deliberately, usually in crowded places.

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Super toxic material. A material, such as Sarin (200 times more toxic
than chlorine) may be used to increase the number of casualties.
Identification of material used. In hazmat incidents there are usually some
indicators as to what material is involved. In a terrorist attack the only
visible indicators may be the symptoms displayed by the victims.
Mass casualties with many fatalities. The purpose of a terrorist attack is to
draw attention. A high death/casualty toll is certain to gain media attention. The psychological effects will go far beyond those directly involved
and add casualties to the number directly affected by the incident.
Mass decontamination. In an attack utilizing a toxic agent, contamination must be confined to as small an area as possible. Any persons,
whether victims or responders, and equipment must be decontaminated
before leaving the scene.
Unusual risk to emergency responders and civilians. Regular PPE may
not be sufficient to protect you from the effects of toxic materials and secondary devices may be present. Remember, the purpose of a terrorist
attack is casualties.13

Safety

One of the primary problems involved


in providing emergency
medical assistance is
avoiding exposure to
bloodborne and
airborne pathogens.

pathogen
a disease-causing
agent

HIV
human
Immunodeficiency
virus, cause of AIDS

EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE OPERATIONS (EMS)


The fire department of today has become much more involved in providing emergency medical services (EMS) and in doing so has moved into a new area with its
own problems. Operations in the area of emergency medicine for most fire departments revolve around first aid for injuries, basic life support, and extrication of
victims from vehicle accidents. Firefighters also respond to victims of assaults,
including gunshot wounds, knife wounds, and rape. Medical emergencies can
include diabetic problems, overdoses, and emergency childbirth. All of these
scenarios pose their own types of hazards.
One of the primary problems involved in providing emergency medical
assistance is avoiding exposure to bloodborne and airborne pathogens. The federal
government has enacted legislation that addresses this problem. The legislation is
part of 29 CFR 1910.1030 Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens. This
regulation identifies emergency response personnel as Category 1 employees.
Category 1 employees are at the greatest risk of occupational exposure to communicable diseases. These bloodborne communicable diseases include, but are not
limited to, HIV and hepatitis. The NFPA addresses this issue in NFPA 1500
Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program.14 NFPA
1581 Standard on Fire Department Infection Control Program15 defines minimum
requirements and criteria. The standard lists required program components and
includes recommendations on fire department facilities, personnel, PPE, and
procedures for cleaning, disinfecting, and disposal.

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mucous membranes
inside of the nose,
mouth, and covering
of the eye

Note
When involved in
situations that require
your caring for more
than one patient, it is
recommended that
you change gloves
between patients.

Chapter 14

Emergency Operations

When responding to emergency medical calls, personnel should be provided


with special PPE. The PPE required provides a vapor barrier between the
firefighter and the patient to prevent any of the patients body fluids from coming
into contact with your skin or mucous membranes. The two terms used to
describe this PPE system are universal precautions used by the American Red
Cross and Centers for Disease Control and body substance isolation (BSI), from
the National Fire Academy course, Infection Control for Emergency Response
Personnel (ICERP). Both of these terms refer to the wearing of smocks, rubber
gloves, and face and eye protection. All of these are available as disposable items;
this way they can be bagged and disposed of properly without having to be
touched again. The rule of thumb when it comes to wearing medical PPE is, If
its wet and it isnt yours, dont get it on you.
Regular turnout gear is equipped with a vapor barrier inside the flame
resistant outer shell and will protect you fairly well. The problem is that once you
get blood from a patient all over your turnouts, where are you going to clean them?
To just take them home is extremely dangerous to your family and yourself and may
be against the law. To do this properly they should be placed in a plastic bag and
laundered to remove any contaminants. This is great if you have two sets of
turnouts, but most people do not. There are going to be times when working in your
turnouts is unavoidable. A smock is no protection from the dangers of getting
burned if gasoline ignites when extricating a victim from a wreck. In situations
where there is no danger from fire, the smock should be worn. The rubber gloves can
be worn under your leather gloves, to prevent the rubber gloves from becoming cut
on glass and sharp objects and protect your hands from liquids soaking through.
When involved in situations that require your caring for more than one
patient, it is recommended that you change gloves between patients. When the
call is concluded and you are ready to pick up and return to the station, it is a
good idea to bag up any gloves and other materials that have become contaminated in a biohazard bag (Figure 14-22). Always be sure that contaminants are
not spread to the handles of the resuscitator or medical aid kit. If someone on the
crew has touched a patients body fluids and then opened the medical aid kit
with the same gloves on, the handles of the kit are now contaminated. If you
remove your gloves and place the kit back into the compartment on the apparatus,
you have contaminated the compartment handle and yourself. In this same way
contamination can be spread to the steering wheel, radios, and other equipment.
Always be sure to check the bottom of your boots for contamination.
When working around paramedics, they will likely be starting IVs. After
the IV is inserted, the needle must be placed in a sharps container. They should
never be dropped on the ground or stuck into the mattress on the ambulance cot.
If needles are dropped on the ground and you kneel down on one, you are likely
to get stuck. It is your responsibility to provide for your own safety and keep an
eye on where the needles are placed after use.
Some other precautions that you can take are to stay in good health: Do not
report to work sick; eat a good diet; wash your hands well and often, especially after

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Figure 14-22
Biohazard
container for
infectious waste.

calls; approach every patient, regardless of age, or gender as if they have some deadly
infection. This does not mean do not treat them; it means treat them with caution.

VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

Safety

Safety

When working
vehicle accidents, it is
important to always
consider the dangers of
spilled fuel.

Another very
real danger is passing
traffic.

When working vehicle accidents, it is important to always consider the dangers


of spilled fuel (Figure 14-23). The apparatus should be parked uphill of the
accident so spilled fuel cannot run down underneath it. If you must work in an
area with spilled fuel to rescue a victim, the spill should be covered with Class
B foam. A firefighter should be designated to stay with the attack line. If he gets
involved in helping you or gets bored and sets down the nozzle, that may be
when the fire starts. Just about the time you get out of your apparatus and
approach the car, some citizen with good intentions will help you out by placing
flares and ignite the spilled fuel.
Another very real danger that has cost firefighters and policemen their
lives is passing traffic. A car or truck going by at 70 miles per hour with the
driver looking at the scene and not the road is a true hazard. The worst times to
work wrecks are at night, on icy roads, or in heavy fog, dust storms, or smoke.
All of these conditions have led to massive pileups. Under these conditions
other drivers cannot see you or do not have total control of their cars. At first
sight of the accident, they tend to slam on the brakes. If the person behind them
is not paying attention, a second accident is about to happen. When possible,

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Emergency Operations

Figure 14-23 Vehicle


fire in diesel truck
tractor.

power shears
cutting attachment
for a rescue tool

park the fire engine between the scene and the oncoming traffic. Point the front
wheels to the side, so if the engine is hit by a truck, it will go to the side, not
directly into your work area.
When working with power tools to extricate accident victims, caution must
be exercised to protect yourself and the victims. Power tools should not be used
when there is spilled fuel in the immediate area. A car roof can be cut off with
hacksaws when necessary. It is slower than a rescue tool but is not an ignition
hazard. When using the power shears all loose trim metal should be removed
first. A power rescue tool is capable of exerting in excess of 10,000 pounds of
force.16 If a door is popped off incorrectly, it could easily hit someone or fall and
cut your toes off. The main point is do not use this equipment unless you and the
others operating it are trained in its use.

VEHICLE FIRES
Vehicle fires can be compared to structure fires with wheels. They can have all,
if not more, of the hazards than a structure fire. A fire in a truck tractor trailer rig
can have numerous hazards from the large amounts of diesel fuel they carry and
the cargo itself. Automobile fires should be approached from the front quarter.

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A five-mile-an-hour bumper is mounted on two shock absorbers and if they


explode the bumper can be propelled forward with great force. It would hit you
just under your knees. Exploding tires can be a shrapnel hazard as well. Full
PPE, including SCBA should always be worn. There are many materials used in
todays cars that are poisonous if inhaled when burning. Cars do not generally
blow up in a fire as they do on television and in the movies. The seams of the gas
tank can let go, spilling forth a large amount of burning fuel (see Figure 14-23).

AIRCRAFT FIREFIGHTING
Aircraft are encountered by firefighters in numerous situations, either as an
emergency incident or as a tool. We will first look at aircraft incidents.
When an aircraft crashes or catches fire, it can present many different
hazards. It is carrying a certain amount of fuel, it has batteries, tires, flammable
metals, and possibly oxygen cylinders. If the incident involves military aircraft,
there is always the possibility of munitions on board and scattered about a crash
scene. When an aircraft crashes, the fuel is often atomized and can explode into
flame. This can cause a spectacular fire with the need for rescue of the occupants.
The first priority in aircraft firefighting is to create a path, which allows the
apparatus and firefighting personnel to approach and the victims that can rescue
themselves to escape. Next entry is made into the body of the aircraft to rescue
anyone alive inside and to complete extinguishment of the fire. The last operation is to complete overhaul of the fire scene.
Over the years there have been crashes of aircraft into structures. This scenario
is further complicated by the presence of a structure fire and associated rescue problems. The aircraft are often just completing takeoff and carrying a large amount of
fuel. When the crash is a distance from a large airport, specialized crash fire apparatus may not be available and the fire must be controlled by regular apparatus.

EMS AND FIREFIGHTING WITH AIRCRAFT


Aircraft are used as a tool by firefighters as well. The type of aircraft firefighters
most commonly encounter at incidents are helicopters used for transportation of
victims on emergency medical calls and for tactical and logistical needs on other
incident types. The rules for working around helicopters are the same no matter
what the type of incident.17
1. Approach and depart helicopters from the side or front in a crouching
position, in view of the pilot.
2. Approach and depart the helicopter from the downhill side to avoid the
main rotor.

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tail rotor
vertical propeller
installed on the tail of
a helicopter used for
steering control

main rotor
horizontal blades that
create lift for a
helicopter

skid
the long tubular
shaped feet that
helicopters sit on
when on the ground

Chapter 14

Emergency Operations

3. Approach and depart the helicopter in the pilots field of vision; do not go
anywhere near the tail rotor.
4. Use a chin strap or secure your head gear (hard hat) when working under
the main rotor.
5. Carry tools horizontally, beneath waist level to avoid contact with the main
rotor.
6. Fasten your seat belt when you enter the helicopter and refasten it when
you leave. A seat belt dangling out of the door can cause major damage to
the thin aluminum skin of a helicopter.
7. Use the door latches as instructed. Use caution around plexiglass, antennas,
and any moving parts.
8. When entering or exiting the helicopter, step on the skid. If you place your
foot next to the skid and the weight of the ship changes, it may run over
your foot.
9. Any time you ride in a helicopter in a wildland fire situation you are
required to wear full PPE.
10. Do not throw articles from the helicopter as they may end up in the main or
tail rotors.
When setting up a landing zone for a helicopter, there are some very important items to consider. Secure all loose articles in the area, such as boxes or other
items that may become airborne. Perform dust abatement by wetting down
the area, if possible. If the helicopter is to land on a roadway, make sure that
vehicle and pedestrian traffic is stopped. When a main or tail rotor hits a vehicle,
the helicopter is out of service and unable to fly. If a rotor hits a person, it will
most likely kill them and disable the helicopter. Wear eye and hearing protection
when working around helicopters. When a helicopter lands or takes off, it kicks
up a tremendous amount of wind and debris. Be sure to roll up the windows on
any vehicles in the area. Provide for plenty of clearance for the helicopter to land.
When the helicopter is coming in to land and you have established radio
communications with the pilot, there are several items the pilot should be made
aware of. Identify and notify the pilot of any elevated hazards in the area, such
as power lines, fences, and light poles. Either set up a wind indicator, with flagging tape on a pike pole or shovel, for example (Figure 14-24), or throw several
shovels of dirt in the air, or stand with your back to the wind with your arms out
in front of you. Notify everyone at the scene that the helicopter is about to land
so they can protect their eyes from debris.
One of the main points to remember when working around any aircraft is
that contact with any moving part on an aircraft is often fatal. All of their parts
are extremely expensive. In most situations the aircraft carries its own crew that
will assist you in operating in the vicinity of the aircraft. You should not touch
anything until you are briefed on its use, nor should you approach the aircraft
until given permission by a crew member or the pilot.

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Emergency Operations

451

Figure 14-24 Wind


indicator using
shovel and flagging
tape.

Safety

Contact with
any moving part on an
aircraft is often fatal.

On wildland incidents, helicopters are used for dropping water and retardant on the fire. The larger helicopters can carry up to 2,500 gallons of water and
create a very strong rotor downwash. If you are sitting in a small vehicle, it feels
as if it will be flipped over. When the helicopter comes in to make its drop, get
out of the area or lie on the ground and cover up. Try to be uphill of the drop so
you do not get washed down the hill or hit by rocks loosened by the water. A
large helicopter can cause the tops of dead trees to break loose and become a
falling hazard. The downwash from the main rotor will also cause a change in
fire activity as the flames are fanned.
Another activity is logistical support. Helicopters are used to sling load
materials to crews on the fire line. When sling loads are delivered, firefighters
should avoid placing themselves in the approach and departure path of the helicopter and stay clear of the landing zone. If the helicopter develops trouble in
flight, one of the first things the pilot does is release the load to reduce weight.

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Chapter 14

Safety

If you are in
the area where a drop
is to be made, it is best
to clear the area prior
to the drop.

Emergency Operations

Airplanes are used to drop fire retardant at wildland fires. The material
dropped is either a chemical compound mixed with water or water alone. Some of
these aircraft are capable of delivering up to 3,000 gallons at one time. If you consider that 3,000 gallons, at over nine pounds a gallon, is coming down from around
200 feet above ground level at 130 miles per hour, the dangers become evident. The
turbulence caused by the planes passage can knock the tops out of trees and fan
the fire. If you are in the area where a drop is to be made, it is best to clear the area
prior to the drop. If this is not possible, lie on the ground on your stomach, facing
the aircraft, and place your hands on top of your head. If you are hit by a retardant
drop you will be covered by a sticky, slippery coating that has a strong ammonia
odor. It is not really harmful, but is uncomfortable. Be aware that it is slippery on
dry grass and rocks and will make hand tools hard to hold on to. This material is
slightly corrosive and should be washed off vehicles as soon as possible.18

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453

SUMMARY
This chapter presented a number of the operations engaged in by firefighters. It by no means
covers every situation or type of event. Numerous
safety rules were presented that can be applied in
a wide range of situations. The main point you
should be left with is that every situation has its
own set of hazards and it is your responsibility to
make sure that you provide for your personal
safety and the safety of others. The worst hazard

is often the one that is not recognized. You must


train yourself to evaluate situations as they arise
and anticipate situations that can harm you. This
requires you to remain constantly vigilant at
every type of incident. When you become complacent and stop paying attention, or think that
things are just routine, you just may be in the
greatest danger.

REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. List at least three interior hazards encountered at structure fires.
2. List at least three exterior hazards encountered at structure fires.
3. What is wrong with freelancing at emergency scenes?
4. Why should the IC set up a RIT at the scene?
5. Why should you not enter electrical substations without electrical company personnel?
6. Using your text, list the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders.
7. Using your text, list the 18 Situations That
Shout Watch Out.
8. What are the four components of LCES?
9. What are the three ways to look?
10. List several of the safety considerations when
providing structure protection.

11. What are the three overs referred to in oil


firefighting?
12. What is the meaning of the term BLEVE?
13. How should all suspected hazardous materials incidents be approached?
14. What is meant by the acronyms WMD and
CBRNE?
15. What is meant by universal precautions in
regard to EMS incidents?
16. Why should an attack line be pulled on all
vehicle rescue situations?
17. What are the three priorities in an aircraft
firefighting incident?
18. What action should you take if an air tanker
is about to make a drop on your position?
19. What are the safety rules for approaching a
helicopter?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Why is the buddy system important when
operating in IDLH atmospheres?
2. If a WMD/NBC event were to happen in your
community, is the fire department prepared

to deal with it? Which other local agencies


would be involved?
3. Why is a good safety attitude as necessary as
safety training in staying safe in emergency
and nonemergency situations?

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454

4. Explain, by using examples, the meaning of


the following quotation: To fight fire one
must be aggressive; to survive it one must be
cautious.

Chapter 14

Emergency Operations

5. Why is it sometimes a better option to take


no action in certain situations?

NOTES
1. OSHA, Standard 29 CFR 1910.120 Hazardous
Waste Operations and Emergency Response
(Washington, DC: OSHA, 1986).
2. National Fire Equipment System Course, S
336 Fire Suppression Tactics (Boise, ID:
National Interagency Fire Center, 2000).
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Shell Oil Co., Reno Fire School Training
Manual (Reno, NV: Shell Oil Co., 1991).
6. Ibid.
7. National Fire Protection Association, Fire
Protection Handbook (Quincy, MA: National
Fire Protection Association, 2003).
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Frank L. Fire, The Common Sense Approach
to Hazardous Materials (New York, NY: Fire
Engineering, 2004).
12. International Fire Service Training Association, Hazardous Materials for First Responders

13.

14.

15.

16.
17.

18.

(Stillwater, OK: Fire Protection Publications,


2004).
SBCCOM, Domestic Preparedness Training
Program (U.S. Army Edgewood Research,
Development and Engineering Center: 1999).
National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1500 Fire Department Occupational
Safety and Health Program (Quincy, MA:
National Fire Protection Association, 2002).
National Fire Protection Association, Standard 1581 Fire Department Infection Control
Program (Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2000).
Hurst Performance, Model 32A Instruction
Manual (Huntingdon Valley, PA: 1980).
National Fire Equipment System, Basic
Aviation Safety (Boise, ID: National Interagency Fire Center, 2000).
National Fire Equipment System Course,
S-370 Intermediate Air Operations (Boise, ID:
National Interagency Fire Center, 2002).